Indefinite Article

a & an

Are you interested in 10 ready made lessons about the indefinite article, the definite article and uncountable nouns with Students' and Teacher's Notes?

Singular Countable Nouns

We only use the indefinite article a/an with singular countable nouns (umbrella, cat, sock, coat, ant, etc). We use a after a consonant sound (a cat, a sock, a coat) and an after a vowel sound (an umbrella, an ant).

First Time

We use a/an when something is mentioned the first time. Thereafter the article changes to the:

  • She wore a beautiful, red dress to the wedding. She bought the dress last week at the sales.
  • It’s a beautiful, sunny day! We should make most of the day, and go for a walk.
  • Did you hear that they bought a dog? And the dog eats carrots!

to Describe Someone/Something

We use the indefinite article a/an when we describe something or someone, and what their job is:

  • She is an architect.
  • John is an optimist.
  • That’s a very big house.
  • I’ve got a good idea.

Unknown Things

We use a/an when the listener doesn’t know which specific thing we are referring to:

  • I would like to buy a new car. I would like a car with aircon.
  • They have arrested a man in connection with the robbery. (we don’t know who the man is, but we know which robbery it was)

All things

We use a/an when we want to say something about all things of that kind:

  • A woman needs nice shoes.
  • A child needs a good diet.
  • A school has to have a roof.

One of a Group

We use a/an to show that one thing is part of a group:

  • He is a member of the Rotary club.
  • She is a resident here.
  • I am a student at Cambridge University.

Practice Exercises

Exercise 1

Write the following sentence starters onto flashcards:

  • He was leaning against ……
  • He was reading ………
  • She was wearing …..                           
  • They were looking at ……
  • The cat was standing on …..               
  • I was making ……
  • We were eating ……                           
  • I wanted to buy …..
  • I saw ……                                               
  • He drank ……

Place them face down on the table. The students need to pick up a card, and take turns completing the sentences (using the indefinite article), and then give a second continuing sentence (which should have the definite article).

Exercise 2

Fill in the missing articles:

Jane is waitress in restaurant. Restaurant is in the city centre, after all, restaurant must be in good location to succeed. She is student at University, and member of the university volleyball team.

12 year old girl went missing from the city centre yesterday. She is local resident and pupil at Westbridge School. She was wearing red coat and matching scarf. She was last seen by someone entering grocery shop, and then there is footage from CCTV camera showing her inside shop. If you have any information, please pick up phone, and call the police.

I would like to buy apartment. It should have kitchen with mod cons, bathroom with shower and bath, and separate toilet. I would prefer one bedroom apartment, as bachelor pad would be too small for me. I mean,  girl needs room to move!

Exercise 3

The students need to write 10 sentences each describing someone else in the class. Divide them up into pairs, and give them 5 minutes to ask each other questions so that they can get enough information. The answers need to be in the following format:

John is an optimist. He is an avid reader. He is an intelligent person because he is a lawyer….etc etc

The above grammar presentation and activities are an extract from my e-notes on Definite and Indefinite Articles. I have written 10 step-by-step ready to teach and ready formatted lessons, with lots of fun writing and speaking activities for your students to practice. Find out more.

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  • 10 ready made lessons
  • Students' and Teacher's Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Grammar Presentations
  • Gap Fill Activities
  • Find the mistake Activities
  • Speaking Exercises
  • Writing Exercises
  • Uncountable Nouns
  • The definite & Indefinite Article
  • Zero Article
  • Authentic texts from the media
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