The indefinite articles in the English language are a and an. While the article ‘a’ is used before a word beginning with a consonant sound, the article ‘an’ is used before a word beginning with a vowel sound.
The indefinite article ‘a/an’ is used before a noun in the following cases:
- To convey the numerical sense of one, e.g.,
This student has a pen.
- To talk about a single non-specific thing, e.g.,
When the girl was at the zoo, she saw an elephant
- Before a noun representing a whole class, e.g.,
A teacher must have patience.
- To talk about a particular person or thing when the listener or reader does not know which person or thing is meant, e.g.,
We live in a big city.
- Instead of the word ‘per’, e.g.,
Cheetahs can run 60 miles an
- To talk about some health conditions or illnesses including most pains, aches and attacks such as a cold, a heart attack, a stroke, a tumor, a sore throat, a toothache, a headache, e.g.,
She has a sore throat. The sore throat made it hard to talk.
** Important** Both definite and indefinite articles can be used to talk about these health conditions.
For more information on the use of the indefinite articles a/an, please refer to the following sources:
- https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/591/1/ (Purdue Online Writing Lab OWL)
- https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/determiners-and-quantifiers/indefinite-article-and (Learn English: British Council)
- https://www.grammarly.com/blog/articles/ (Grammarly)