THE is a definite article. It refers to a particular object:
The book is on the table.
The aircraft is over the carrier.
A and AN are indefinite articles. They refer to objects that have not been specially identified. A changes to AN before any word beginning with a vowel sound:
An old man
TIP: You were probably taught at school AN should be followed by a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) and A should be followed by a consonant: An elephant, A car. Unfortunately, this is not always true!
When to use AN or A depends on how the word is pronounced and not on how it is written.
The U in university is pronounced with a long U sound which sounds like yew and is written as j in the phonetic alphabet. So, although the letter is a vowel, it is not pronounced like one in university because it does not have a vowel sound. We therefore say a university.
The U in umbrella is pronounced as a vowel sound (Λ using the phonetic alphabet) and so we use AN. We therefore say an umbrella.
This rule also applies to the use of consonants. The word hour has a soft H which is weakly pronounced and therefore we say an hour. If the word has a hard H, like house, we use A (a house).
A) Complete the following sentences with A or AN:
1. It is ________ nice day.
2. It is ________ old university.
3. He is ________ unusual man.
4. It is ________ exception to the rule.
5. It is ________ long trip, but it is ________ easy trip.
6. It is ________ large library.
7. It is ________ orange.
8. It is ________ pear.
9. He is ________ honest man.
10. He is ________ old man.
B) Complete the following sentences with the proper article:
1. ________ chair on which you are sitting is not comfortable.
2. There is ________ pencil (no particular pencil) on the desk.
3. There is ________ customer (no particular customer) outside who wishes to see Mr. Smith.
4. ________ customer whom Mr. Smith telephoned this morning is here now.
5. I want to find ________ good book (no particular book) to read tonight.
6. ________ book which I am reading now belongs to John.
7. ________book which gave me the greatest pleasure was Sense and Sensibility.
8. ________ good book (any good book) is always a pleasure for me.
9. Have you ________ cigarette? (no particular cigarette).
10. ________cigarette which John is smoking has a strange odor.
Verb TO BE (Past Tense)
Verb TO BE (Present Tense)
Verb TO BE (Present Tense) Negative and Question Forms
9. AN (honest /’AnIst/)
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