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Grammar details about ARTICLES by Franco

The Indefinite Article
**A **OR AN

  • a is used before a word beginning with a consonant, or vowel sounded like a consonant:
    a man; a table; a university (jyiu); a useful thing (“yu”)

  • **an ** is used before words beginning with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) or with a mute h
    an hour; an hounrable man; an egg; an elephant; an apple

The gender is not important: a man a woman an actor an actress

The Indefinite Article
**A **OR AN
Is used:
Before a singular noun wich is countable, of which is more than one.
When it is mentioned for the first time and represents no particular person or thing “indefinite”.

  • A dog is an animal
  • I see a man
  • A house has a roof
  • A cat can catch a mouse

Is used:
Before a singular countable noun which is used as an example of a class of things.

  • A cow has horns (all cows have horns)
  • An elephant never forgets
  • A palm tree is usually very tall

Is used:
With a noun complement. This includes names of professions

  • He is a doctor; she is a teacher; he became a great man; she is a good girl.

Is used:
In certain numerical expressions
a couple, a dozen, half a dozen, a score (a group of 20 things), a gross (an amount of 144 usually used in sales), a hundred, a thousand, a million, a lot of, a great deal of, a great many of.
Expressions of price, speed, ratio…
fivepence a kilo, tenpence a dozen, sicty kilometres an hour, four times a day, a pound a metre.

A and ONE are not usually interchangeable, you can see the difference in GRAMMAR DETAILS ABOUT ADJECTIVES AND PRONOUNS.

Is used:
With few and little; the quantity depends on the speaker
a few = a samall number (countable)
a little= a samll amount (un countable)

  • a little time, a few friends

only a few / only a little Only is used to emphasize that the quantity is really small
few and little without the article have an almost negative meaning similar to_ hardly any_

  • We had little time for amusement = We were always busy

  • Few people know this = It is almost unknown

Is used:
In exlamations:

  • What** a** hot day!; what a pretty girl!; such a pity!.

  • What pretty girls; what big dogs! …(plural nouns so no article)

Is used:
Mr/ Mrs/ Miss

  • a Mr Smith = a man called Smith, he is a stranger to the speaker
  • Mr Smith = knows of his existence
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