07 Jun


English language section of any Banking or SSC exam consists of sentence error spotting and sentence improvement questions. These questions can be cracked with confidence only when you know and understand the application of grammatical rules. It is here that the fundamentals related to the use of articles become really crucial.

In this regard, the center providing quality Coaching for SSC in Delhi has prepared this ready reckoner which clearly explains the concepts related to articles and their application.

What are Articles?

The 3 articles ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’ are basically adjectives. ‘A’ and ‘an’ are known as indefinite articles as they refer to something or someone in a less specific way. Articles are a type of determiners because they are followed by nouns (naming words) or words that act in a similar manner.

Indefinite Articles

Indefinite Articles

‘A’ and ‘an’ indicate that the noun following them is indefinite, referring to something or somebody that is not clearly defined.

  •  Let us go to a park (‘A’ park means any park. It is not some particular or specific park that is being talked about.)
  • My sister wants a pet on her birthday. (‘A’ pet refers to any pet. She doesn’t need a specific pet.)

Rules: Use of ‘A’ or ‘An’

  •  ‘A’ + singular nouns that start with a consonant such as: a girl, a cup, a pen etc.
  • ‘An’ + singular nouns that start with a vowel such as: an eagle, an orange etc.
  • ‘A’ + singular nouns that start with consonant sounds: a university (sounds like ‘yoo niversity,’ i.e. begins with a consonant sound: ‘y’, thus ‘a’ is used), a year etc.
  • ‘An’ + nouns that start with a silent “h”: an hour, an honor etc.
  • If an adjective has been used to qualify the noun, then the choice between ‘a’ & ‘an’ is dependent upon the start sound of the adjective that immediately comes after the article. Example: a boiled egg, an impossible job, a European nation (as its starts with a consonant ‘y’ sound).

Definite Article (The)
Definite Articles

‘The’ is known as the definite article because it generally comes before a specific noun or a previously mentioned noun. ‘The’ precedes specific or particular nouns. It indicates that the noun is definite & that it refers to a specific member of a collection.

  •  Let us go to the park (‘The’ park refers to a particular park and not just any park.)
  • The thief who robbed me got away.’ (Here, we are referring to a specific thief, the one who robbed me.)

Rules: Use of ‘The’
The Definite Article

  1. ‘The’ is used when the noun after it represents something unique (one of a kind). Example: The earth circles the sun.
  2. ‘The’ is used before the names of:
  • Oceans – The Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean…
  • Rivers – The Ganga, the Amazon, the Nile…
  • Seas – The Arabian Sea, the Caspian Sea…
  • Mountain Ranges – The Himalayas, the Alps…
  • Deserts – The Sahara, the Kalahari…
  • Geographical Regions – The Middle East, the Northwest…
  • Lines on the Globe – The Tropic of Cancer, the Equator…
  • Points on the Globe – The North Pole, the South Pole…
  • Hotels – The Hyatt, the Radisson…
  • Historical Buildings – The Red Fort, the Taj Mahal…
  • Families (Pluralized) – The Chopras, the Munjals…
  • Sports Teams (Pluralized) – The Lakers, the Avengers…
  • Newspapers – The Hindu, the Times of India…
  • Musical Instruments – The Violin, the Guitar…
  • Currencies – The Pound, the Euro…
  • Island Chains – The West Indies, the Maldives…
  • Battles – The Battle of Panipat, the Battle of Plassey…
  • Holy or Religious Books – The Ramayana, the Bible…
  • Countries having the words Union, United & Republic – The UK, the USA, the Irish Republic…
  1. ‘The’ is used before:
  • Superlatives – The smartest, the most beautiful…
  • Ordinals (Ranking Expressions) – The first, the second, the last…
  1. ‘The’ + Singular countable noun can refer to an entire group or category.

Example: The tiger is a natural hunter. (‘The tiger’ refers to all tigers, the entire species)

  1. ‘The’ can also express the idea of something superlative.

Example: Shane Warne will always be remembered for bowling the ball of the 20th century. (‘The ball’ refers to the best ball. ‘The’ has given the force of a superlative to the noun: ball)

No Article or Zero Article
Zero Article

  1. No article is used before plural countable nouns in case of general statements.

Example: Engineers are known to be good at problem solving and data analysis.

  1. In a general context, no article is used before uncountable nouns.

Example: Honesty is the best policy. (Honesty is an uncountable noun.)

  1. No article is used before the names of:
  • Meals – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  • Diseases – The patient is suffering from cancer.
  • Seasons – In spring, we visit the nearby hill stations.
  • Substances / Materials – Copper is the second best conductor of electricity.
  • Languages – I learnt French, when I was in school.
  • Religions – Hinduism preaches compassion towards all forms of life.
  • Sports – I like playing cricket.
  • Individual Lakes – Sambhar Lake is in Jaipur.
  • Individual Islands – Greenland is one of the coldest places in the world.
  • Mountain Peaks – K-2 is the second highest peak in the world.
  • Months – January is the first month of the year.
  • Days of the week – Sunday is no longer a universal holiday.
  1. No article is used before words such as: school, hospital, prison, church, college, bed, class etc., when we refer to their primary purpose.

Example (I): John goes to school daily. (John is a student. He goes to school for getting educated. Here, we are referring to the primary purpose of the school i.e. education.)

Example (II): He was sent to prison on account of violating the intellectual property laws meant to control software piracy. (The primary purpose of any prison is to deliver punishment.)

  1. No article is used before ‘man’ and ‘woman’, if we refer to them in a general sense.

Example: Man is a social animal. (It is a statement that talks about ‘man’ in a general context.)

The rules explained above are undoubtedly helpful in learning the use of articles, but exceptions will always be there. You will have to note and understand these exceptions on a case to case basis. This can be done by attempting ample number of practice questions given in the study material offered by the institute for Best SBI Coaching in Delhi.


This article is the quality work of top Vidya Guru Experts having years of experience in teaching classes for Bank PO, SSC CGL and other Govt. job entrance exams. To consult these experts, you can write to vidyagurudelhi@gmail.com.

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