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Grammar challenger Hanibal from Libya

Indefinite articles
We've looked at the topic of articles before in Grammar Challenge. In this programme we look in a little more detail at the use of the indefinite articles 'a' and 'an', concentrating on four basic rules.

Our challenger this week is Hanibal from Libya who has to make sentences using the correct articles.


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There are a lot of rules about how we use articles.  Here are four rules for using the indefinite articles 'a' and 'an' :

We use the indefinite articles a / an
1. to refer to something or someone for the first time in a conversation:

I've got two children – a boy and a girl. The boy is 7 and the girl 4.

2. before professions and job titles:

a nurse           a plumber           a politician           a marketing executive

3. with some expressions of quantity, amounts and frequency:

a pair of jeans           a few minutes           twice a year           50 miles an hour

4. with expressions with "What ... !":

What a great dress!           What a mess!           What a shame!

Although we use an indefinite article with jobs or professions we don't use an article with adjectives about jobs or work:
He's unemployed.
She's retired.

The indefinite article 'a' is used before words that begin with a consonant sound. 'An' is used before words which begin with a vowel sound. Note that we are talking about sounds and not spelling.

For example the word "European" begins with the vowel letter 'e' but it is pronounced with the consonant sound / j /. Therefore we say and write, "He's British but he thinks of himself as a European."


Download Nuala's grammar explanation (pdf - 26 K)

Download this programme (mp3 - 1.8 MB)
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