The 3 articles in English are a, an and the. The learner has to decide noun-by-noun which one of the articles to use.
In fact, there are 4 choices to make, because sometimes no article is necessary. Native-speakers, of course, use the articles correctly without thinking. English learners, on the other hand, need to have some guidelines for making the right choice - particularly those learners whose own language does not have articles.
The guidelines that follow in this lesson should help ESL students to a basic understanding of English article use.
The words a, an and the are known as articles. • We use an before words that begin with vowels (a,e,i,o,u).
E.g. I found an orange boat.
However there are few exceptions like the words honest and hour. In the words honest and hour the alphabet h is silent and therefore the letter o becomes the first alphabet of the word and hence we use the article an.
E.g. Mr. Smith is an honest man. I will be with you in an hour.
We use a before words that begin with consonants (all the letters of the alphabet except the vowels).
E.g. Bumble is a baby elephant. • We use the before words that we have already spoken about. E.g. I bought an apple. The apple is very sweet.