Understanding the Articles and How They Help to Make Your Sentences Special

We know that there are 8 parts of speech, these are noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. These elements make up our sentences to convey our messages and thoughts. But did you know that there is also a special element that may or may not be a part of speech?

They are known as the Articles, referring to the words A, An, and The.

No official citation says that the articles add up as another part of speech for its use is still being studied. An article is sometimes referred to as a form of an adjective as it modifies the word after it. Some claims that these determiners are related to the pronouns. However, these words are as equally important as your adjectives and pronouns because they are present in our daily conversation.

You may reread the paragraphs above and see how often they are used in the sentences.

Articles have two kinds: definite and indefinite. Given its obscure nature, the articles are often taken for granted and used improperly.

Definite Article, THE

This article is used to introduce a proper noun, especially if an emphasis is needed:

  • The Manor hotel
  • The Vietnamese language
  • The European culture

It is also used with a country with a group of islands, several states, or distinction

  • The Philippines
  • The Netherlands
  • The United States of America
  • The People’s Republic of China

Another common use is to indicate the uniqueness of a noun. It means that there’s only a specific thing, person, place, action, or thought being talked about.

Observe the examples below:

  • Mary sat under the tree (in an open park only filled with lamp posts).
  • Mary sat under the mango tree (in a park full of other trees).
  • Mary sat under the shadiest mango tree (in a park full of mango trees).

The article ‘the’ makes a word singled out.

Indefinite Article, A or An

This article is used to a general idea. Unlike ‘the’, it doesn’t give emphasis or sense of singularity to a word being talked about.

It takes on two forms.

A is used before a word that starts with consonant letters (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, k, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, and z).

  • a jacket
  • a new phone
  • a kind, smart teacher
  • a cup of coffee

An is used before a word that starts with vowels (a, e, i, o, and u).

  • an elephant
  • an amicable classmate
  • an ice box
  • an octopus

Note: there are words that begin with a consonant letter but read as though they begin with vowels. Those vowel-sounding words should use an.

Examples:

  • a hospital
  • an honest cabbie

In the word hospital, H is pronounced while in the word honest, H is omitted.

  • an umbrella
  • a unanimous decision

Compared to the word umbrella, ‘unanimous’ is read as though it begins with Y.

Establishing the Unique Identity of a Word

To better illustrate the use of The and A/An in your sentences, compare the two sentences below:

  1. John chose to buy a pen from the shop.
  2. John chose to buy the pen from the shop.

Statement 1 says that John bought a pen which didn’t have the quality to be singled out. That pen may be ordinary or just like the other pens he usually sees.

Statement 2 refers the pen with high regard. It is treated something like a very different one from what he can find in the shop.