Articles are an important part of English Grammar. An article is a word that we use to modify the noun.
What is a noun?
A noun is a person, a place, an object, a thing or an idea. Nouns are split into common nouns such as words for animals, places, things, or people:
Proper nouns are names we use for particular places, people or things:
- Mount Everest
(They’ll always start with a capital letter)
What is an article?
An article is an adjective used before a noun. Normally we use adjectives to describe a noun, but an article is used to refer directly to the noun.
When to use A
A is an indefinite article, which means we use it to refer to a general noun rather than a specific item. We use A when before a single noun when the first letter of the noun is a consonant:
- A book
- A car
- A dog
- A flag
- A giraffe
When to use An
An is an indefinite article, which means we use it to refer to a general noun rather than a specific item. We use An when before a single noun when the first letter of the noun is a vowel:
- An apple
- An elephant
- An igloo
- An octopus
- An umbrella
Exceptions A vs AN
There are a few exceptions to the general rules.
For example, in some words where we use a consonant as a first letter which has a vowel sound, we then use An:
- An hour
- An honor
And in reverse, in some words where we use a vowel as a first letter which has a consonant sound, we then use A:
- A United States citizen
- A university
This also happens with any acronyms:
- An LCD screen
- A ULR
So the most important thing to remember in A vs AN is the first sound of the following noun. If the noun starts with a consonant sound, use A. If a noun starts with a vowel sound, use An.