They’re the most frequently used words in English, but many people who are learning English find using A, AN, and THE confusing. Here’s a quick review of the rules.
The words a, an, and the are all used to refer to things.
Using A and AN
A and an are both used to talk about things in general. Use a or an to refer to things when you mention them for the first time.
1. I have a book.
2. She has an umbrella.
3. I ate a hamburger. The hamburger was delicious.
Use a to refer to things that start with a consonant sound: a book, a cake, a chair.
Use an to refer to things that start with a vowel sound: an umbrella, an hour, a university.
Remember: You only use a or an when there is only one of the thing you are referring to. When you are referring to more than one thing, you need to use some: an apple, some apples.
I ate a hamburger. The hamburger was delicious.
The is used to refer to specific things. Use the to talk about something the listener already knows about.
1. I ate a hamburger. The hamburger was delicious.
2. She has an umbrella. The umbrella is blue.
3. I have a book. The book is thick.
Finally, you don’t need to use an article when you are talking about all things in general.
1. Pandas eat bamboo. (Not: The Pandas eat the bamboo.)
2. I like listening to music. (Not: I like listening to the music.)
To remember how to use a, an, and the correctly, try remembering phrases that use them correctly.
Try thinking of some right now!