Use of indefinite article

  • English Grammer
  • Publisher Jannat
  • 2023-11-27
  • (302)
Use of indefinite article

Use of indefinite article

(Use of A/An):

The indefinite article has two general rules.

These are-

The general rule (1): If the first letter of a singular common noun is a consonant letter, it is preceded by “A.”.

Some examples are:

  1. A pen
  2. A book
  3. A man
  4. A cat

Explanation:

Each of the above nouns is a singular common noun, and the first letter of each noun is a respective “p, b, m, c” consonant letter. So they are preceded by “A.”.

The general rule (2): If the first letter of a singular common noun is a vowel letter, it is preceded by ”an.”.

Some examples are:

  1. An ox.
  2. An egg.
  3. An apple.
  4. An orange.

Note: Remember that a singular common noun must be preceded by an article.

For example:

  1. He writes a letter.
  2. Mukta reads a book.

Explanation: The word “a” is not mentioned in the two sentences above, but “A” is placed before the two words “letter’ and ‘book”. This is because the words ‘letter’ and “book” are singular common nouns.

Note: Remember, if a singular common noun is not specified, then it means anyone. it must be assumed.

#But, there are some exceptions to the above two general rules.

Exceptions rule [1]: if a noun or adjective starts with the letter ”H” and is implied (is not pronounced), it is preceded by "An.".

However, if the stress is on the 2nd syllable of a word,’ H’ is pronounced, but “An” sits before the vowel.

For example:

  1. He has an heir.He is an honest man.I waited for an hour.
  2. He is an honors graduate.
  3. But ”H” is pronounced with “A” before it.

For example:

  1. He is a historian.
  2. He lives in a hotel.
  3. We have a horse.
  4. They have a house.
  5. He is a happy man.

Exceptions rule [2]: If a word starts with “o” and is pronounced like “wa,” it is preceded by an “A”.In other words, the term “one” is preceded by an “A.”.

For example:

  1. A one blind man.
  2. A one lame man.
  3. He is a one-legged man.
  4. He is a one-eyed man.
  5. This is a one-act play.

# But, if “o” is pronounced differently than ‘wa”, it is preceded by “An”.

For example:

  1. This is an ox.
  2. He is an old man.
  3. This is an orange.
  4. An owl lives in this tree.

Exceptions rule [3]: if a word starts with “U” and “U” is pronounced like “eu” then it is preceded by “A”.

For example:-

  1. This is a unit.
  2. This is a university.
  3. This is a uniform.
  4. This is a useful thing.
  5. He is a usurer.
  6. This is a usage of the country.

# But, if “U” is pronounced like “aa”, it is preceded by “An”.

Some examples:-

  1. I have an umbrella.
  2. He has an uncle.
  3. A crow is an ugly bird.
  4. He is an unwise man.
  5. This is urgent news.

Exceptions rule [4]: Again, if a word has one or more vowels at the beginning and is pronounced like “U,” then “A” sits before it.

Such as:-

  1. We have a ewe.
  2. He is a European.

Exceptions rule [5]: If one or more short letters are used to mean the title, then “An” will be placed before the vowel if the first letter is pronounced.

Such as:-
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Here the first letter is "M,” and in it (M=A+M), it has the pronunciation of “A”i.e.vowel.So it will be preceded by “An”.

For example:-

  1. He is an M.A.
  2. He is an L.L.
  3. He is an F.R.CS.
  4. He is an M.B.S.
  5. He is an M.P.
  6. He is a T.N.O.
  7. This is an M.E. school.
  8. This is an X-ray machine.

#But, if a vowel is pronounced after the first letter, “A” will be placed before it.
B.A. (Bachelor of Arts):

Here the first letter is “B” and has a vowel -after it (B=B+E). So, it will be preceded by “A”.

For example:-

  1. He is a B.A.
  2. He is a D.C.
  3. He is a Ph.D.
  4. He is a B. Sc.
  5. Also, “A” sits in the following places:
    or Example:-
    When exclamatory sentences begin with “What”, “A” comes after “what”.

For example:

  1. What a fool I am!
  2. What a nice flower it is!
  3. What a good man he is!

(2) Many times in the form of a preposition, i.e., instead of a preposition, “A” sits. It is called a disguised preposition.

For example:

  1. I went hunting. (on-hunting)
  2. He goes fishing. (on-fishing)
  3. I fell a sleep. (on-sleep)
  4. Salt sells 500 gm a taka. (Per taka)
  5. The beggar goes begging. (on-begging)

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