Tu cita con el inglés (vol. 11) – Artículos “a”, “an” y “the”

Estudiar inglésEn ocasiones, incluso para los estudiantes avanzados, utilizar correctamente artículos y preposiciones se convierte en toda una pesadilla, especialmente al mantener una conversación.

En el artículo de este mes de Tu cita con el inglés, el profesor Ronan O’Donnell explica cómo usar adecuadamente los artículos a, an y the. Puede parecer obvio, pero como decimos, más de uno fallaría en algunos de los ejemplos que Ronan da en su artículo.

Como siempre, os animamos a que nos comentéis de qué temas os gustaría que Ronan hablara en su próximo artículo, así como que compartáis con él vuestras ideas y sugerencias en su página de Facebook: facebook.com/A2BEnglish, donde encontraréis, además, muchos consejos y curiosidades sobre la lengua de Shakespeare y sobre cómo mejorar vuestro nivel de inglés.

The articles

When should I use the indefinite articles a, an and definite article the? Here are a few basic rules to help you. When you have finished, test your knowledge by trying the quiz at the end.

A/an is the indefinite article and is used before a singular, countable noun. It is also used when mentioning something for the first time or when mentioning a non specific object.

           A watch is very useful for telling the time.

The is the definite article and is used when we are talking about something specific and it is also used in the following cases:

  1. When there is only one of something:

The Earth, the capital of Spain, the end of the month.

  1. When something has been referred to previously

John attends a school in Picadilly. The school has a great reputation.

  1. Musical instruments and species.

I am learning to play the piano.

The hummingbird can fly up, down and backwards.

  1. Countries with Republic, States, Kingdom etc.

The Republic of Ireland, The United Arab Emirates.

  1. With oceans, rivers, canals, mountain ranges, nationalities, deserts.

The English(when the nationality ends in -s we don’t use the eg. Mexicans)the Atlantic, The Alps.

For school, hospital, church, university and prison:

Paul goes to school every day. ( to learn, as a student)


His father has gone to the school as the teacher has asked to see him about Paul’s behaviour. (the building)


We don’t use the with dinner, lunch, breakfast

I had curry for dinner.


Home, work and bed without the

I am not going to work tomorrow.

What time did you get home last night?

I went to bed at 10 o’clock but Don’t sit on the bed (specific item of furniture)


Article Review Quiz   (Choose either a, an, the or leave blank)

  1. Every year the parents are invited to _____ school for the end of term celebrations.
  2. Unfortunately he didn’t get _____ job he applied for.
  3. Do you need _____ umbrella?
  4. What did you eat for _____ breakfast?
  5. Barack Obama is president of _____ United States.
  6. She is very religious. She goes to _____ church every day.
  7. Paul has been looking for _____ job for ages.
  8. _____ polar bear is native to _____ Arctic Circle.
  9. It  took me ages to learn to play _____ guitar.
  10. I had _____ sandwich and _____ orange for lunch.



1. the 2. the 3. an 4.5. the 6.7. a 8. The, the 9. the 10. a, an

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