Articles (a, an, the)

Articles are adjectives that let the reader know if you are referring to a particular thing or just one of those things.  Articles in the English language are a, an, and the.

There are two kinds of articles: definite and indefinite.

Definite Article: The

The is considered a definite article, and it tells the reader that you are referring to a particular thing that both you and the reader know and can recognize.

The student standing by the door.  (Referring to a particular student and a particular door)
The book that you brought is here. (Referring to a particular book)

Indefinite Article: A, An

A and an are considered indefinite articles, and they tell the reader that you are referring to just one thing (not a particular thing).

She will bring an apple for lunch. (It could be any apple)
He brought a pen so he could take notes. (There is no specific pen he brought; it is just a pen)

Use a for a word that begins with a consonant (a car, a bed, a computer), and use an for a word that begins with a vowel (an elephant, an outlet, an igloo).

Tips for Using Articles:

·       The first time you refer to an object use a/an.  The second and every subsequent time, you should use the.

I drive a minivan.  The minivan is black with red and orange flames painted on the side.

·       Do not use an article when referring to countries, states, lakes, counties, or mountains.  An exception would be when referring to a collection of something: The Great Lakes, The United States. 

I have visited South America.  She lives in Hennepin County.

·       Do use an article when referring to a body of water. 

I have sailed on the Adriatic Sea.  My family lives on the Atlantic Ocean.