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

Though the matter on our website is in-depth and comprehensive enough for the needs of most of the aptitude exams, but it may also feel daunting for the same reasons. Moreover, some learners prefer books over websites. So, if you are a beginner level English learner, and prefer books, you may explore the following English Grammar books too.

1. Wren & Martin - This book has been around for long and is still considered one of the best. Though many concepts have not been dealt with in much depth here, but beginners may find it a breeze to read. Once you are done with it, the content on our website will work as a rich add-on. If you are getting this book, make sure you get the key to its exercises too.

Link for Indian readers: Wren and Martin

2. More advanced learners may refer to the following books. However, buy them only if you must. Most of your English Grammar learning needs will easily be met by our website.

Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Essential English Grammar

Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Intermediate English Grammar

Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings
Link for Indian readers: Advanced English Grammar

So much so for Englsh Grammar. But what about Comprehension skills and Vocabulary?

We strongly believe that Comprehension skills and Vocabulary are more a matter of practice. The more you read, the better you will become in them. In fact, this will help you in Grammar too. Afterall Grammar rules are just in the nature of temporary scaffholding - the goal is to read, write and speak a language without consciously remembering even a single Grammar rule.

So, we suggest you to read vividly. Ideally, carry some tool with you that you may refer to learn the meaning of any word that is new to you. There are many ways you may go about it.

* The old method: Carry a good dictionary with you. But who does?

* Download a Thesauraus app on your mobile or just google it. Better, but we still need to stop reading, open app, type and then search. Boring!

The methods mentioned above kill the joy of reading. Who wants to stop reading in the midst of an interesting plot and look for the meaning of a word? And if you are a lazy soul like me, oh man! No chance!

That's why I prefer to read on gadgets like Kindle. We may just tap on any word and see its meaning there and then. It's also not taxing on the eyes.

If you guys know about any more such books, gadgets and technologies that are awesome and may help English learners, do share 😇
Share on: