Indefinite Articles

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How to Use Indefinite Articles?

Do you know what indefinite articles are? There are so many things that we learned in English grammar, but we tend to forget them. Indefinite articles play a vital role in grammar. Let us know more about it.

There are two articles in the English language: ‘A’ and ‘An.’ We all know when to use these indefinite articles. Let us first discuss the use of ‘An’ and then move on to the use of ‘A.’

Use of Indefinite Article ‘An’

Indefinite article ‘A’ is used at the start of a consonant, and ‘An’ is used at the beginning of every vowel. ‘An’ is used when you use a word starting with vowels, which are a, e, i, o, u. For example -

  • An Owl Stays Awake in the Night.

In this sentence, the word Owl starts with a vowel ‘O’; hence we added ‘An’ at the starting of the sentence. There are many more examples: an apple, an ox, an elephant, an ice-cream, an umbrella. You can try more such combinations with the indefinite article ‘An’ and make new sentences.

Use of Indefinite Article ‘A’

I told you in the beginning that when a sentence starts with a consonant, ‘A’ is used. There are many such sentences where you can use ‘A.’ For example -

  • A Girl was Walking Down the Street When She Saw a Man Following her.

In this sentence, we can see two types of combinations, a girl and a man. Always remember to use the indefinite article ‘A’ before any consonant. That is why whenever a sentence begins, we always tend to add ‘A’ at the beginning. 

Exceptions to use "A" and "An"

But there are some exceptions to this rule as well. There are times when you may use ‘An’ before a consonant. The best way to remember this is by trusting the way the sentence sounds in your head when you say it aloud.

  1. Pronunciation Plays a Crucial Role When you are Using the Indefinite Articles ‘A’ and ‘An.’

For example, if we take this sentence,

  • There was an Hourglass on the Window Sill.

In this sentence, the word ‘hourglass’ is a consonant, but we have used ‘An’ as when you pronounce the sentence "H" gets silent, and it sounds like a vowel. The basic principle behind this is that sometimes we may pronounce a particular consonant as a vowel, e.g., the word hourglass is a consonant, but we pronounced it as a vowel. In the same way, certain vowels are pronounced as consonants rather than vowels. For Example:

  • Sheela Went to America to Study at a University.

In this sentence, the word ‘university’ is a vowel, but we pronounced it as a consonant, and that is why we added the indefinite article ‘A’ instead of using ‘An.’

If you get familiar with the articles ‘A’ and ‘An,’ it is easy to understand them. It is not much difficulty in placing these indefinite articles in certain sentences. All you have to do is focus on the way they sound when you pronounce them out loud. If they sound wrong after saying them aloud, try another indefinite article and reiterate the same sentence. You may then easily understand the difference between those two.

  1. "A" and "An" Only Used With Singular Noun and Not With Plural Noun

  • Please give me an apple.

  • Pass me a plate of food.

Here apple and plate are a singular noun, and thus we used "a" and "an" for them.


So, this was all about the usage and example of Indefinite Articles "a" and "an". Hope it will clear to you know how and where to use these articles. Try them by making some sentences to check how much you learned from this article.