Definite and Indefinite Articles in English Grammar

Video Overview

Articles are divided into definite and indefinite articles used to distinguish between specific particular things and general things. A/An are indefinite articles and are used to talk about general, non-specific nouns, and ‘the’ is a definite article used to refer to a noun that has previously been mentioned or to refer to a specific thing within a group or when we know what thing we are talking about. A/an and 'the', or using no article at all are your options when it comes to articles. In this video we make it easy to remember the rules.

Video Analysis

We use a, an or no article, to talk about general objects - ones that are not special or unique and ‘the’ to refer to specific things, or when we understand which noun you are talking about.

I think I'll have an apple.

I think I'll buy a cake.

I'm going to study at the library.

I'll meet you at the cinema.

I think I'll have chocolate.

There is no article before ‘chocolate’ because ‘chocolate’ is an uncountable noun.

With uncountable nouns, we can use ‘the’ or no article.

For example, we can say, Can you give me the water – if we are talking about a specific UNIT of water (the bottle of water, the glass of water). But ‘Give me ‘water’, when ANY water will do the job!

I like chocolate - In this example, we don't use an article because chocolate is uncountable and you like chocolate in general.

I like ‘the’ milk chocolate.- in this example, we use an article because you are referring to a specific kind of chocolate (milk chocolate).

Most material and abstract nouns are uncountable, for example when we say ‘Love is a beautiful thing’ or ‘Paint comes in many different colours’. Here we are talking about general things- not a specific loving relationship or a specific unit of paint.

We use ‘the’ with specific things in a group, for example

The most talented in THE orchestra.

THE best at Spanish in the class.

For places, when we know where you are talking about eg.

I am going to the Shop – when we know WHICH specific shop you are talking about.

And for natural and man-made wonders that are specific and unique, like

THE Moon

The Sun

Or THE Taj Mahal.

You can watch our video on definite and indefinite articles to find out more and for more explanations and examples.

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