Articles with Common and Abstract Nouns

In this article, we will have a look at the use of articles with various Common and Abstract Nouns.

Articles with Common Nouns

Concept 1: Known object

We use article ‘the’ before an object, if that object is already known to both the speaker and the listener.

Place it on the table. (the table in front of you)

Can you turn off the fan? (the fan in the room)

Concept 2: Singular common noun

If we use an article before a singular common noun, then it can represent the entire species.

A lion is a ferocious animal.

The word ‘man’ is an exception. Here we need not use an article.

Man is the most intelligent mammal. (Man – here it means human beings)

Concept 3: Relations

We do not use any article before names of relations, like father, mother, aunt, uncle, etc.

Father has asked you to meet him in the study room.

Aunt Shruti is my favorite relative.

We also do not use any article before cook and nurse, which gives a meaning of ‘our cook’, ‘our nurse‘.

Cook has been fired.

Concept 4: Personality

When we talk about a personality present inside a person, article comes with the name of that personality.

This converts the common noun into quality (i.e. an abstract noun).

Pattern: The/A + Common noun + in + Noun / Pronoun …………

He’s facing a dilemma between the judge and the father in him. (the judge - moral of judge; the father - love of father for his son)

A mother was born in her when she saw the baby. (A mother - feelings of motherhood)

You need to call to the warrior inside of you.

Concept 5: school, college etc.

school, college, university, temple, church, hospital, prison, bed

When we use the words in reference to their primary function, then we do not use any article.

My uncle goes to temple every Tuesday.

You should go to school.

Articles with Abstract and Material Nouns

Abstract and Material nouns are uncountable nouns and hence we do not use any article with them, when they are used in a general sense.

Honesty is the best policy.

Gold is a girl’s second best friend.


These uncountable nouns take ‘the’ when used in a particular sense (especially when qualified by an adjective or adjectival phrase or clause).

Would you pass me the salt? (i.e. the particular salt on the table)

I can’t forget the kindness with which I was treated by them.

If abstract/material noun is followed by ‘of’, an article precedes the noun.

Pattern: Article + Noun + of + ….

The coffee of Brazil is known worldwide for its aroma.

The bravery of Captain Abhay Sharma fetched him the shaurya chakra.

Extra Books and Tools

If you prefer to learn via books, or want some good English Grammar books for reference purposes, you may read this article which enlists some of the books recommended by us.
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