Articles with General or Particular instance of Nouns

In this article, we will study the various uses of Indefinite and Definite Articles when a general or a particular instance of a noun is involved.

Articles with General or Unique/Particular Instance

Concept 1

We use ‘the’ before names of things unique of their kind (i.e. we know that there is only one of a particular thing).

For example:

  • Astronomical objects (the sun , the world, the earth)
  • Water body (the ocean, the Arabian sea, the Ganga, the Suez canal, the English channel)
  • Mountain ranges (the Himalayas, the Alps)
  • Also, the sky, the North Pole, the jet age, the international market, the travel industry, the arms trade etc.

Concept 2

We use ‘the’ before the names of certain books.

For example: the Vedas, the Bible, the Puranas, the Ramayana.

But we say - Valmiki’s Ramayana, Homer’s Iliad.

Concept 3

We use ‘the’ before musical instruments.

For example: the guitar, the flute etc.

She can play the flute pretty well.

Concept 4

Sometimes it depends on the context. That is we either use ‘the’ or ‘a/an’ with certain nouns depending on how they have been referred to in a sentence.

We use ‘the’ when we refer to following things in a general way:
the weather, the climate, the human race, the atmosphere, the sea, the public, the environment, the sky, the ground, the wind, the future, the past

However, if we want to describe a particular instance of these we use ‘a/an’.

uses of articles

Articles for General Description or Unique Description

When we describe someone or something - We use ‘a/an’ with a singular noun

This is a beautiful lake.
English has become an international language.

When we say that someone or something is unique - we use ‘the’ (or sometimes zero article)

It’s not Sydney but Canberra that is the capital city of Australia.
English is the international language of business.

Articles for Already known entities or when Context is known

Concept 1

We use ‘the’ when the listener/reader can identify the thing/person we are talking about. Otherwise we use ‘a/an’.

uses of articles

Concept 2

We use ‘the’ when it is clear from the situation which person/thing we mean.

This curry smells awesome. What’s in the curry? (it’s clear which curry we are talking about)

What do you think of the candidate? (it’s clear which candidate we are talking about)

Concept 3

We use ‘the’ when we have already mentioned that person/thing earlier.

Geetanjali took a cat to the party, but the cat jumped on the cake and then ran off.

I gave an interview yesterday. Some of the questions asked in the interview were funny.

Extra Books and Tools

Though the matter on our website is in-depth and comprehensive enough for the demands of most of the aptitude exams, but it may feel daunting for the same reasons. Moreover, some learners prefer paperback 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.

Links for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries:

High School English Grammar and Composition Paperback

Key to Wren and Martin

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.

A. Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: Essential Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Essential English Grammar

B. Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: English Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Intermediate English Grammar

C. Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: Advanced Grammar in Use - with Answers

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 so as 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 the 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.

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries:

Link for Indian readers:

There are a multitude of Kindle models and versions available. So, you may have to do some research on your own regarding which model serves your need the best. Though, any model will meet our basic reading needs.

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