Indefinite Article in English
The indefinite article the is used in the following cases:
|With singular countable nouns:||I have a book.
I can see a mountain.
|When a singular countable noun is mentioned for the first time:||I have bought a house.
Yesterday I met a friend.
|When a singular countable noun is used as an example of an element representing all elements which belong to the group:||An elephant is heavy.
(i.e. "any elephant" or "all elephants")
In spring, a tree is green.
(i.e. In spring, all trees are green.)
|When a singular countable noun is used as a complement of a verb: be or become||Ernest Hemingway was a writer.
Isaac Newton became a great scientist.
|In exclamatory sentences with a singular countable noun:||What a nice day!
What a charming person!
|With few (used with a countable noun) and little (used with an uncountable noun) which denote "small number" or "small amount"||I have a few friends. (i.e. "several friends")
I have a little fortune. (i.e. "some money" - positive meaning)
|Expressions of price, speed etc:||two pounds a dozen
eighty miles an hour
|With Mr./Mrs./Miss + surname, when the person mentioned is unknown for the speaker:||a Mr. Brown which means "a man called Brown"|
|With a surname when we want to say that the person we are talking about has characteristics of the owner of the surname:||He was an Einstein of his time.
Tom will never be a Nelson.
|With certain numerical expressions:||a dozen
a thousand = one thousand
and with such expressions like:
a lot of
a great deal
|With uncountable nouns preceded by an adjective:||He has a strong character.
Do you know that Robert Wilson has a good knowledge of Chinese?
|With superlative adjectives followed by nouns:||This is a better strawberry.
This is a more interesting book.
|With superlative adjectives followed by a noun. In this case the word most means ‘very’ or ‘extremely’:||Tom Smith is a most intelligent boy. (i.e. ‘a very intelligent boy’)
Professor Brown gave a most interesting lecture. (i.e. a very interesting lecture)
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