Learn English Grammar: Lesson 11 – Articles a and an
The articles a and an are used only before singular count nouns. Specifically, use a and an with singular count nouns that are not specific and are being mentioned for the first time.
- A dictionary has thousands of words and their meanings.
- A cat has whiskers.
- An umbrella is necessary when it rains hard.
Use a before a word (noun, or adjective + noun) that begins with a consonant sound.
- a dictionary
- a big dictionary
Use an before a word (noun, or adjective + noun) that begins with a vowel sound.
- an orange
- an expensive orange
Remember that words beginning with the letters h or u can be tricky. Some of these words use a and some use an—depending on the beginning sound of the word.
- a bouse
- an hour
House begins with the consonant sound / h /, but hour begins with a vowel sound. (The letter h is silent in the word hour.)
- a university
- an uncle
University begins with the consonant sound / y /, but uncle begins with a vowel sound.