Articles, Kinds of Articles, uses of Articles

The origin of the word “article” is a Latin word “articulus” which means a little joint. “A”, “An”, and “The” are called Article (or determiner). They introduce the noun before which they are placed. As a matter of fact they are Demonstrative Adjectives. Whenever you see an article, you will also see a noun with it. The noun may be the next word or there may be adjectives and perhaps adverbs between the article and the noun, as: the man, the very young man, etc. It is always used with a noun. It gives some information about a noun. They are used frequently and are important for using English correctly.

Kinds of Articles

There are two kinds of articles:
i. Indefinite Articles (a, an)
ii. Definite Article (the)

Indefinite Articles (a, an)

“A” and “An” are called Indefinite Articles because they do not point to any particular noun. The noun remains indefinite. “A” and “an” are used before singular countable nouns. They generalize a Noun. The choice between a and an is determined by sound. The article “An” is used before a singular countable nouns which begin with a vowel sound, as, An ass, an enemy, an ink-stand, an orange, an umbrella,. Before a word beginning with a consonant sound “a” is used; as, a boy, a reindeer, a woman, a yard, a horse, a hole, etc. The letters (a, e, i, o, u) are vowels and remaining letters are consonants.
A doctor = Any doctor.
This is a book.
This is an umbrella.
Use of the Indefinite Articles:
A and an are used before singular countable nouns. The choice between a and an is determined by sound.
1) A is Used before
i. Words beginning with a consonant; as, a book, a pen, etc.
ii. Words beginning with “U” giving the consonant sound of “you”; as, a university, a useful method,  a unique idea, etc.
iii. Words beginning with “O” giving the consonant sound of “W”; as, a one-sided view, a one Rupee note, a one-eyed man, etc.
iv. Words beginning with a vowel, sounded like “you”, as, A European, a eulogy etc.
2) An is Used Before
i. Words beginning with a vowel as An orange, an egg, an ant, etc.
ii. Words beginning with “H”, as, “An honor, an heir, an honest friend, etc. It can be noted that the words hour, honest, heir begin with a vowel sound, as the initial consonant “h” is not pronounced.
iii. Words beginning with a sounded “H” and accented on the second syllable; as, an historical building, an heroic act, etc.
iv. An is also used before such abbreviations as are pronounced with a vowel sound like pronunciation of “M” is “am” (with vowel sound). Thus we should say : An M.A., An L.L.B., An S.D.O., etc.
3) A or An are used:
As a general rule, a common noun in the singular number must take an indefinite article before it.
This is a book.
I saw an elephant.
ii.  A and An are often used in the sense of “Any” or “One”.
Give me a (any) book.
Twelve pieces make a (one) dozen.
iii.  A and An are used after a linking verb, before a noun or pronoun phrase.
He is a teacher.
He became an actor.
iv. A and An are also used in certain phrases:
Once upon a time there was a boy.
He reached here in half an hour.

Definite Article (the)

“The” is called the Definite Articles, because it points to some particular or definite noun. “The” is used both before countable singular nouns and countable plural nouns, e.g. the book, the books. It is also used before uncountable nouns, e.g. the milk.
The students are on strike today.
Here is the book you gave me.
The milk is in the glass.
Use of the Definite Article
“The” is called the Definite Articles, because it points to some particular or definite noun. “The” is used both before countable singular nouns and countable plural nouns, e.g. the book, the books. It is also used before uncountable nouns, e.g. the milk.
1. When we speak of a particular common noun or of a common noun which has been mentioned before.
The book you want is not with me.
I saw a lion. The lion was running.
2.  When a common noun in the singular is used to represent a whole class.
The cat loves comfort.
The dog is faithful animal.
3.  Before the names of Gulfs, Rivers, Seas, Oceans, Ships, Groups of Islands, Mountain ranges, etc.
The Persian Gulf; The Red Sea; The Indian Ocean; etc.
4.  Before the names of Countries and States.
The Punjab; The U.S.A.; The U.S.S.R.; The U.N.O.; etc.
5.  Before the names of Scriptures (Holy Books), Newspapers, and Magazines.
The Quran, The Bible, The Pakistan Times, The Mag, The News, etc.
6. Before the names of Nationalities, Communities, Institutions, Religious Groups, Political Parties, etc.
The French; The Muslims, etc.
7.  Before the names of important buildings.
The Taj Mahal; the Red Fort;
8.  Before a proper noun, if it is qualified by some adjective.
The immortal Shakespeare; The great Iqbal, etc.
9.  Before the names of unique things.
The Sun; the Moon; the Sea; the Earth; etc.
10.  With adjectives in the superlative degree.
He is the tallest boy in the class.
The darkest cloud has a silver lining.
11. We use “the” before an adjective to make plural noun.
The rich (rich people) should help the poor (poor people).
12.  Before the comparative degree of adjectives when there is a sense of proportion.
The higher you go, the cooler it is.
The more you read, the more you learn.
13. “The” is used when we compare one proper noun to another.
Kashmir is the Switzerland of Pakistan.
Allama Iqbal is the Shakespeare of Pakistan.
14. In certain fixed idioms and phrases.
He is a patriot to the backbone.
All were silent, and then Ali broke the ice.
15. Before the names of Ships, Trains, etc.
The Titanic, The Shalimar Express, The Shaheen Express, etc.
16.  Before all historical events.
The First World War; the French Revolution; etc.
17.  Before directions.
The South, the North, the East, and the west
18.  Before the musical instruments.
The flute; the piano, etc.