An article (with the linguistic glossing abbreviation ART) is a word
that is used with a noun (as a standalone word or a prefix or suffix)
to specify grammatical definiteness of the noun, and in some languages
extending to volume or numerical scope.
The articles in
English grammar are the and a/an, and in certain
contexts some. "An" and "a" are modern forms of the Old English "an",
1 Definite article 2 Indefinite article 3 Proper article 4 Partitive article 5 Negative article 6 Zero article 7 Variation among languages
8.1 Definite articles 8.2 Indefinite articles
9 See also 10 References 11 External links
Definite article The definite article is used to refer to a particular member of a group or class. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned or it may be something uniquely specified. There is one definite article in English, for both singular and plural nouns: the:
The children know the fastest way home.
The sentence above refers to specific children and a specific way home; it contrasts with the much more general observation that:
Children know the fastest ways home.
The latter sentence refers to children in general and their specific ways home. Likewise,
Give me the book.
refers to a specific book whose identity is known or obvious to the listener; as such it has a markedly different meaning from
Give me a book.
which uses an indefinite article, which does not specify what book is to be given. The definite article can also be used in English to indicate a specific class among other classes:
The cabbage white butterfly lays its eggs on members of the Brassica genus.
However, recent developments show that definite articles are morphological elements linked to certain noun types due to lexicalization. Under this point of view, definiteness does not play a role in the selection of a definite article more than the lexical entry attached to the article.[clarification needed] Indefinite article An indefinite article indicates that its noun is not a particular one identifiable to the listener. It may be something that the speaker is mentioning for the first time, or the speaker may be making a general statement about any such thing. a/an are the indefinite articles used in English. The form an is used before words that begin with a vowel sound (even if spelled with an initial consonant, as in an hour), and a before words that begin with a consonant sound (even if spelled with a vowel, as in a European).
She had a house so large that an elephant would get lost without a map.
Before some words beginning with a pronounced (not silent) h in an
unstressed first syllable, such as historic(al), hallucination,
hilarious, horrendous, and horrific, some (especially older) British
writers prefer to use an over a (an historical event, etc.). An is
also preferred before hotel by some writers of British English
(probably reflecting the relatively recent adoption of the word from
French, in which the h is not pronounced). The use of "an" before
words beginning with an unstressed "h" is more common generally in
British English than in American. American writers normally use a
in all these cases, although there are occasional uses of an
historic(al) in American English. According to the New Oxford
Dictionary of English, such use is increasingly rare in British
English too. Unlike British English, American English typically
uses an before herb, since the h in this word is silent for most
Americans. The correct usage in respect of the term "hereditary peer"
was the subject of an amendment debated in the UK Parliament.
The word some can be viewed as functionally a plural of a/an in that,
for example, "an apple" never means more than one apple but "give me
some apples" indicates more than one is desired but without specifying
a quantity. In this view it is functionally homologous to the Spanish
plural indefinite article unos/unas; un/una ("one") is completely
indistinguishable from the unit number, except where it has a plural
form (unos/unas). Thus Dame una manzana" ("Give me an apple") but
"Dame unas manzanas" ("Give me some apples"). The indefiniteness of
some or unos can sometimes be semiquantitatively narrowed, as in
"There are some apples there, but not many."
Some also serves as a singular indefinite article, as in "There is
some person on the porch".
A proper article indicates that its noun is proper, and refers to a
unique entity. It may be the name of a person, the name of a place,
the name of a planet, etc. The
If a name [has] a definite article, e.g. the Kremlin, it cannot
idiomatically be used without it: we cannot say
Some languages also use definite articles with personal names. For
example, such use is standard in Portuguese (a Maria, literally: "the
Maria"), in Greek (η Μαρία, ο Γιώργος, ο
Δούναβης, η Παρασκευή) and in Catalan (la Núria,
el/en Oriol). It also occurs colloquially in Spanish, German, French,
Italian and other languages. In
French: Veux-tu du café ? Do you want (some) coffee?
For more information, see the article on the French partitive article.
Haida has a partitive article (suffixed -gyaa) referring to "part of something or... to one or more objects of a given group or category," e.g., tluugyaa uu hal tlaahlaang "he is making a boat (a member of the category of boats)." Negative article A negative article specifies none of its noun, and can thus be regarded as neither definite nor indefinite. On the other hand, some consider such a word to be a simple determiner rather than an article. In English, this function is fulfilled by no, which can appear before a singular or plural noun:
No man has been on this island. No dogs are allowed here. No one is in the room.
See also: Zero article in English
The zero article is the absence of an article. In languages having a
definite article, the lack of an article specifically indicates that
the noun is indefinite. Linguists interested in
Visitors end up walking in mud.
Variation among languages
Articles in languages in and around Europe
indefinite and definite articles
only definite articles
indefinite and suffixed definite articles
only suffixed definite articles
Note that although the Saami languages spoken in northern parts of
Norway and Sweden lack articles, Norwegian and Swedish are the
majority languages in this area. Note also that although the Irish and
Articles are found in many Indo-European languages, Semitic languages
(only the definite article), and Polynesian languages, but are
formally absent from many of the world’s major languages, such as
Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Russian, the
majority of Slavic and Baltic languages, Yoruba, and the Bantu
languages. In some languages that do have articles, like for example
some North Caucasian languages, the use of articles is optional but in
others like English and German it is mandatory in all cases.
Linguists believe the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages,
Proto-Indo-European, did not have articles. Most of the languages in
this family do not have definite or indefinite articles: there is no
The articles used in some languages
Language definite article partitive article indefinite article
Albanian -a, -ja, -i, -u, -t, -të (all suffixes) disa një
Arabic al- or el ال (prefix)
Assamese -tû, -ta, -ti, -khôn, -khini, -zôn, -zôni, -dal, -zûpa etc.
êta, êkhôn, êzôn, êzôni, êdal, êzûpa etc.
Breton an, al, ar
un, ul, ur
Bulgarian -та, -то, -ът, -ят, -те
един/някакъв, една/някаква, едно/някакво, едни/някакви
Catalan el, la, l', els, les ses, lo, los, es, sa
un, una uns, unes
Danish Singular: -en, -et, - (all suffixes) Plural: -e, -ene (all suffixes)
Dutch de, het ('t)
French le, la, l' les du, de la, de l' des un, une des
German der, die, das des, dem, den
ein, eine, einer, eines einem, einen
Greek ο, η, το οι, οι, τα
ένας, μια, ένα
Hawaiian ka, ke nā
Hebrew ha- ה (prefix)
Hungarian a, az
Icelandic -(i)nn, -(i)n, -(i)ð, -(i)na, -num, -(i)nni, -nu, -(i)ns, -(i)nnar, -nir, -nar, -(u)num, -nna (all suffixes)
Irish an, na
Italian il, lo, la, l' i, gli, le del, dello, della, dell' dei, degli, degl' , delle un', uno, una, un
Khasi u, ka, i ki
Kurdish -eke -ekan hendê, birrê -êk -anêk
Luxembourgish den, déi (d'), dat (d') dem, der däers/es, däer/er en, eng engem, enger
Macedonian -от -ов -он -та -ва -на -то -во -но -те -ве -не -та -ва -на (all suffixes) неколку еден една едно едни
Manx y, yn, 'n, ny
Norwegian Bokmål Singular: -en, -et, -a (all suffixes) Plural: -ene, -a (all suffixes)
en, et, ei
Norwegian Nynorsk Singular: -en, -et, -a (all suffixes) Plural: -ane, -ene, -a (all suffixes)
ein, eit, ei
Portuguese o, a os, as
um, uma uns, umas
Quenya i, in, 'n
Romanian -(u)l, -le, -(u)a -(u)lui, -i, -lor (all suffixes)
un, o unui, unei niște, unor
Scottish Gaelic an, am, a', na, nam, nan
Sindarin i, in, -in, -n, en
Spanish el, la, lo los, las
un, una unos, unas
Swedish Singular: -en, -n, -et, -t (all suffixes) Plural: -na, -a, -en (all suffixes)
Welsh y, yr, -'r
Yiddish דער (der), די (di), דאָס (dos), דעם (dem)
אַ (a), אַן (an)
* Grammatically speaking Finnish has no articles, but the words se (it) and yks(i) (one) are used in the same fashion as the and a/an in English and are, for all intents and purposes, treated like articles when used in this manner in colloquial Finnish. The following examples show articles which are always suffixed to the noun:
Albanian: zog, a bird; zogu, the bird Aramaic: שלם (shalam), peace; שלמא (shalma), the peace
Note: Aramaic is written from right to left, so an
Assamese: "কিতাপ (kitap)", book; "কিতাপখন
(kitapkhôn)" : "The book"
Bengali: "Bôi", book; "Bôiti/Bôita/Bôikhana" : "The Book"
Bulgarian: стол stol, chair; столът stolǎt, the chair
(subject); стола stola, the chair (object)
Icelandic: hestur, horse; hesturinn, the horse
Macedonian: стол stol, chair; столот stolot, the chair;
столов stolov, this chair; столон stolon, that chair
Persian: sib, apple; sibe, the apple. (The
Example of prefixed definite article:
Hebrew: ילד, transcribed as yeled, a boy; הילד, transcribed as hayeled, the boy
A different way, limited to the definite article, is used by Latvian
and Lithuanian. The noun does not change but the adjective can be
defined or undefined. In Latvian: galds, a table / the table; balts
galds, a white table; baltais galds, the white table. In Lithuanian:
stalas, a table / the table; baltas stalas, a white table; baltasis
stalas, the white table.
Languages in the above table written in italics are constructed
languages and are not natural, that is to say that they have been
purposefully invented by an individual (or group of individuals) with
some purpose in mind. They do, however, all belong to language
^ "What Is a Determiner?". YourDictionary. ^ "Using Articles—A, An, The Scribendi.com". Scribendi. ^ "The 500 Most Commonly Used Words in the English Language". World English. Archived from the original on 13 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-14. ^ The Use and Non-Use of Articles[permanent dead link] ^ Recasens, Taulé and Martí https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228748115_First-mention_definites_more_than_exceptional_cases ^ Diaz Collazos, Ana Maria. 2016. Definite and indefinite articles in Nikkei Spanish. In González-Rivera, Melvin, & Sessarego, Sandro. New Perspectives on Hispanic Contact Linguistics in the Americas. Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana-Vervuert ^ a b New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1999, usage note for an: "There is still some divergence of opinion over the form of the indefinite article to use preceding certain words beginning with h- when the first syllable is unstressed: ‘a historical document’ or ‘an historical document’; ‘a hotel’ or ‘an hotel’. The form depends on whether the initial h is sounded or not: an was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, because the initial h was commonly not pronounced for these words. In standard modern English the norm is for the h to be pronounced in words like hotel and historical, and therefore the indefinite article a is used; however, the older form, with the silent h and the indefinite article an, is still encountered, especially among older speakers." ^ a b Brown Corpus and Lancaster-Oslo-Bergen Corpus, quoted in Peters (2004: 1) ^ Algeo, p. 49. ^ www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199899/ldhansrd/vo990427/text/90427-43.htm. ^ Burchfield, R. W. (1996). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd ed.). p. 512. ISBN 0199690367. ^ Argetsinger, Amy (1 September 2015). "Why does everyone call Donald Trump 'The Donald'? It's an interesting story". Washington Post. Retrieved 3 October 2017. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2015/09/01/why-does-everyone-call-donald-trump-the-donald-its-an-interesting-story/ ^ http://townhall.com/columnists/patbuchanan/2004/06/08/goodbye_to_the_gipper/page/full ^ Lawrence, Erma (1977). Haida dictionary. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center. p. 64. ^ ScienceDirect[permanent dead link] Master, Peter (1997) "The English Article System: acquisition, function, and pedagogy" in: System, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp. 215–232 ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Simona, Ropati (1986). Tokelau Dictionary. New Zealand: Office of Tokelau Affairs. p. Introduction. ^ "Genetic Linguistics:Essays on Theory and Method". google.com.
"The Definite Article, 'The': The Most Frequently Used
v t e
Lexical categories and their features
Abstract / Concrete Adjectival Agent Animate / Inanimate Attributive Common / Proper Countable / Mass / Collective Initial-stress-derived Relational Strong / Weak Verbal / Deverbal
Finite / Non-finite Attributive Converb Gerund Gerundive Infinitive Participle (adjectival · adverbial) Supine Verbal noun
Accusative Ambitransitive Andative/Venitive Anticausative Autocausative Auxiliary Captative Catenative Compound Copular Defective Denominal Deponent Ditransitive Dynamic ECM Ergative Frequentative Impersonal Inchoative Intransitive Irregular Lexical Light Modal Monotransitive Negative Performative Phrasal Predicative Preterite-present Reflexive Regular Separable Stative Stretched Strong Transitive Unaccusative Unergative Weak
Collateral Demonstrative Nominalized Possessive Postpositive
Genitive Conjunctive Flat Locative Interrogative Prepositional Pronominal Relative
Demonstrative Disjunctive Distributive Donkey Dummy Formal/Informal Gender-neutral Gender-specific Inclusive/Exclusive Indefinite Intensive Interrogative Objective Personal Possessive Prepositional Reciprocal Reflexive Relative Resumptive Subjective Weak
Inflected Casally modulated Stranded
Article Demonstrative Interrogative Possessive Quantifier
Discourse Interrogative Modal Noun Possessive
Yes and no Copula Coverb Expletive Interjection (verbal) Preverb Pro-form Pro-sentence Pro-verb Procedure word Prop-word