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Master the Usage of Articles With Examples

Published on Sunday, July 09, 2017
A clear understanding of the usage of articles in sentences will help us in solving “Error spotting” questions easier and quicker.
Articles  a , an , the
Indefinite articles  a and an
Definite article  the

Usage of Articles “a” and “an”

  • a + word with consonant sound
  • an + word with vowel sound
  • the + word with vowel/ consonant sound ( when the word is meant to be definite)
  • For typical words with vowel or consonant sounds, there will not be any confusion. But for those words which start with a vowel letter but have a consonant sound and vice versa, we need to be cautious in the usage of the articles.

Exceptions in Words starting with Vowels

1.The word “one” is pronounced as “wonin English. So it starts with a vowel but has a consonant sound. Hence for words starting with “one”, we need to use the article, “a” before them.
a one-rupee coin
a one-day program
But, “only” is pronounced in the same way as it is written. Hence we use “an” before only.
an only child

2.Words starting with the letter “u”, will have the pronunciation as “you”. For those words, we use the article, “a” before them.
a uniform
a unicorn
This should not be followed for all words starting with “u”, since many words don’t have the sound of “you”.
an umbrella

3.Words starting with “Eu” will also have a consonant sound “you”, though it starts with a vowel ,e. Hence we should use the article, “a” before them.
a European country
a eucalyptus plant

Exceptions in Words starting with Vowels

1. Some words starting with “h”, will have the “ha” sound silenced. Hence they sound like a vowel. For those words, we should use the article , “an” .
an hour
an honour
For all other words which have “ha” sound, we should use “a”.
a hospital
a horse

Exceptions in Words with abbreviations
For those words of abbreviations, which start with a consonant and have a vowel sound, we should use “an”
an M.L.A
an M.P
an FBI agent
It is always necessary to pronounce the word and then use appropriate articles before them.

Usage of the article “the”

“the” is used,
1. Before unique objects or persons .(there is only one object / person existing)
The moon
The President of India

2. The superlative form of the adjective.
The tallest boy
The most brilliant girl

3. Before some mountains/oceans
The Himalayas
The Indian Ocean

4. Before the words repeated in a sentence.
There was a man in the village. The man had two sons.

5. Before some countries
The UK, The west Indies.

6. Before some monuments
The Taj Mahal, The Colosseum

7. Before adjectives of Nationality and adjectives of generalisation
the Swedish, the French, the rich , the poor.

8. Before ordinal numbers
the fourth chapter, the first time

Omission of Articles

Some words don’t take articles before them, which include the names of countries, names of people, uncountable nouns etc.

We have brushed up our knowledge in the usage of articles. Using this, we shall try to spot the errors in the following sentences.
Find which part of the sentence contains error. If there is no error, the answer is "No correction required".
  1. Three years ago,/ despite being in severe pain,/ Vikas Gowda came up with a silver / at Asian Games in Incheon.
  1. The next year,/ discus throw National record holder /was close to his best / as he struck gold / at the Asian athletics championships at Wuhan.
  1. Now, with just couple of days / for the curtains to go up for the Asians,/ Vikas has been put in a very awkward situation
  1. With the Mysuru man producing / mediocre 57.79m throw in Sunday’s trials,/ the news going around was / that he may not be allowed to compete.
  1. But there was a positive turn/ to the series of events on Monday.
  1. “Vikas will be taking part,” / Deputy National coach Radhakrishnan Nair told Hindu on Monday night. / “The series of incidents must have been very demoralising for Vikas.”
  1. Meanwhile, AFI secretary C.K. Valson also indicated / that Vikas could get the green flag to compete after all.
  1. “We have sent Vikas’ case to selectors,/ most probably he will be in,” he said.
  1. Vikas, who trains in US ,/ has been one of India’s finest throwers ever/ and the country has often looked up to/ the giant to deliver at the majors.
  1. He is the Commonwealth Games champion,/ two-time Asian Championships gold medallist.
  1. He was in the top 10 at the last three World Championships/ and at 2012 London Olympics/ finished a creditable eighth.
  1. Incidentally, Vikas threw impressive 62.35m/ at a meet in Chula Vista/ in the US last month.
  1. That makes him /one of top three Asians/ in the world list this year. The two Asians above him,/ are not very far ahead.
  1. That makes an Indian/ a contender for a medal,/ even a gold perhaps,/ at Bhubaneswar.
  1. Incidentally, all the three are yet to make/ the cut for this August’s World Championships in London.
  1. Vikas was probably paying price /for not revealing the extent of the shoulder and knee injuries/ he suffered last year. 
  1. After qualifying for the Olympics early in 2015, /he was lying low for the whole of last season / and came up with poor performance at Rio.
  1. Vikas may not be at his best now/ but he can still be a force to reckon with/ and author a happy ending to the story.


  1. at the Asian Games in Incheon.
  2. the discus throw National record holder
  1. Now, with just a couple of
  1. a mediocre 57.79m throw in Sunday’s trials
  2. No correction required
  3. Deputy National coach Radhakrishnan Nair told The Hindu on Monday night
  4. No correction required
  5. We have sent Vikas’ case to the selectors
  6. Vikas, who trains in the US
  7. 10. a two-time Asian Championships gold medallist.
  1. and at the 2012 London Olympics
  1. Incidentally, Vikas threw an impressive 62.35m
  2. one of the top three Asians
  3. That makes the Indian
  4. No correction required
  5. Vikas was probably paying the price
  6. and came up with a poor performance at Rio
  7. No correction required
Questions were taken from an article of The Hindu dated 04/07/2017

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