Indefinite Article

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In English, the two indefinite articles are a and an. Like other articles, indefinite articles are invariable. You use one or the other, depending on the first letter of the word following the article, for pronunciation reasons. Use a when the next word starts with a consonant, or before words starting in u and eu when they sound like you. Use an when the next word starts with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) or with a mute h. Example:

  • a boy
  • an apple
  • a car
  • a helicopter
  • an elephant
  • a big elephant
  • an itchy sweater
  • an ugly duck
  • a european
  • a university
  • a unit
  • an hour
  • an honor

Other cases:

  • The indefinite article is used to refer to something for the first time or to refer to a particular member of a group or class.
  • Use a to refer to something for the first time.
  • Use a with nationalities and religions in the singular.
  • Use a with the names of days of the week when not referring to any particular day.
  • Use a to refer to an example of something.
  • Use a with singular nouns after the words ‘what’ and ‘such’.
  • Use a meaning ‘one’, referring to a single object or person, or a single unit of measure. In these sentences using “one” instead of the indefinite article is grammatically correct. It will add emphasis to the number, and contrast with other numbers.

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