Article Usage and IELTS - Part 3

Indefinite Articlces: A / AN

Rule

Examples

A is used with countable nouns that begin with a consonant

Please hand me a pencil.

I would like to buy a newspaper.

An is used with countable nouns that begin with a vowel

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Please bring an umbrella with you.

Spelling is not a reliable indicator for using a or an. If a word starts with a consonant but sounds like it starts with a vowel, use an. If a word starts with a vowel but sounds like it starts with a consonant, use a.

I made an honest mistake.

I’ll  send an SOS to the world.

I will attend a university next year.

A or an is used before a countable noun the first time it is mentioned. Thereafter, the is used to refer to the noun.

I will buy a present for my brother. The present must be under 20 dollars.

A or an are used with professions.

My brother is a teacher, and his wife is an accountant.

A or an can be used instead of per when used to express rate.

I go to the gym three times a week.

I am paid 5 dollars an hour.

Include a or an to the words little for few to make a more positive connotation.

She makes a little money.

She makes little money.