What would happen if we left out all those little words – the definite and indefinite articles? I can hear lots of people asking ‘What are they?’ … and indeed, I had to remind myself of their uncommon description, which only English teachers and writers with good grammar memories would know. Okay, you will know them when I show them to you. Three words come to mind, those being ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’. The first two are what are called indefinite articles, which simply means that they are used in front of nouns if the writer is not specifying anything. For example, I went on a flight on a DC3. I am not referring to a specific flight, and I am not referring to a specific DC3 plane. However, if I said, I went on the 4.50pm flight on the DC3 to Birdsville (yes, that is a real place in Australia), then I am specifying the flight as the 4.50pm one, and on the one plane going to Birdsville at that time.
The indefinite article ‘an’ is used if the noun begins with a vowel or the noun is pronounced as a vowel, as in a silent consonant. Examples are: An apple a day and An honest opinion.
As long as you remember the function of these three small but important words, then that is the main thing.
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