At the indefinite article in the English language (the indefinite article) are two forms in writing and pronunciation: a — before consonants (a happy hour, a plane, a chair) and an — front vowels (an officer, an incident, an idea). But to choose this or that form should be based on the pronunciation of it, but not the spelling. The first form of the indefinite article in the English language is used before words beginning with a consonant sound in speech, even if they begin with a vowel in writing:
This is a universal device. — This versatile device.
As we can see, the first letter of the word universal vowel, but the sound that it represents, is a consonant, and, consequently, the article is a.
If the word begins with a silent letter h, then the shape of the article will be an: an hour, an honest man. By the way, notice that in the second example, after the article is not a noun and an adjective, but the choice of form a or an is not relevant. It all depends on the sound begins with a word that immediately follows the indefinite article in the English language, even if it is not a noun.
The origin of the indefinite article in the English language is required English numeral one (one). But this does not mean that the article and this numeral interchangeable. For example, the proposal — You act like a fool (You’re acting like a fool) — the numeral one would have looked strange and out of place. If you tend to emphasize individuality person or object, use this numeral.
The most important thing: the indefinite article in the English language is used only with countable nouns in the singular: a table, a teacher, a cell-phone, etc. This article is not available, if the noun is plural. In this case, to talk about the zero article (zero article): tables, teacher s, cell-phones.
The values of the indefinite article in the English language
The first value of the indefinite article in the English language is a classification, that is, the subject of the reckoning, those events to a certain class of homogeneous objects, but without isolating it from its class. Examples:
It’s a trolley-bus — This trolley (not a machine).
He’s a doctor — He is a doctor (not the seller). (classify what type of jobs is his occupation)
Note that the presence of certain before a noun with the indefinite article in the English language as it does not emit the subject, but only narrow the scope of the class to which he belongs:
- a house — the house
- a new house — a new home
- a new two-storeyed house — new house
The second value of the indefinite article in the English language is considered a generalization of (an object or person in question is not simply classified, but also acts as a representative of a class of objects, persons, events). In this case, the value of the article corresponding to such words as «any, every, every one» (every, any).
A cat is a domestic animal. — Cat — a pet. (any cat — as a representative of this class)
A teacher should be competent. — The teacher must be competent. (each teacher — as a representative of the profession)
The value of the indefinite article in the English language is particularly noted in Proverbs and English that express properties characteristic of any given class of objects or persons.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. — Friend is known in trouble.
A liar is not believed when he speaks the truth. — Liars do not believe he’s telling the truth.
And finally, the third value of the indefinite article in the English language — the value of individuality. It is associated with the origin of the article, as mentioned above. The value of individuality is particularly evident in terms of measures of time, distance, weight, quantity.
I’d like a cup of coffee, please. — I would like a cup of coffee (one).
A fortnight consists of fourteen days. — In two weeks, fourteen days.
I ran a kilometer without a stop. — I ran a kilometer without stopping.
Singularity at the indefinite article is clearly reflected in the set phrases that convey a single action (to have a rest — relax, to have a snack — snack, to make a mistake — make a mistake, to give a lift — lift, as a result of — in result, to play a trick — to make a joke, it’s a pity — pity, etc.)
The indefinite article in the English language as we know, is used with countable nouns in the singular. And here is a noun performs the function syntax:
- Subject to the proposals from the structure there is, there was, there will be.
There is a new shopping centre in the city. — This is a new shopping center in the city.
There was a lift in the house. — The house was an elevator.
There will be an interesting movie next week. — Next week will be an interesting movie.
- Predicate (that’s part of a composite nominal predicate).
My cousin is a modern dress-designer. — My cousin — a fashionable designer clothes.
My friend is a guide. He is a professional interpreter. — My friend — a guide. He is a professional translator.
- Direct additions.
I’ve decided to bake a chocolate cake. — I decided to bake a chocolate cake.
The boy has a good memory. — The boy has a good memory.
If the data syntax used functions such as nouns, but in the plural, we are talking about the zero article, ie its absence. The same applies to uncountable nouns (real, collecting, abstract), which in this case will be used in a general sense.
There are stamps on the envelope. — The envelope has a brand.
We bought new furniture yesterday. — Yesterday we bought new furniture.
When to use the indefinite article in the English language? The cases are many, they will be described in a separate article. Now I would like to just mention two classical law, which will be only the indefinite article and personal Bole. First, we use a / an, the first time talking about some object, person phenomenon. But again and then repeated references thereof will be presented by the article definite (the).
Yesterday I saw a cat in the street. The cat was hungry. — Yesterday I saw a kitten in the street. This kitten was hungry.
This morning I bought a newspaper and a magazine. The newspaper is in my bag but I do not know where the magazine is. — This morning I bought a newspaper and a magazine. The paper in my bag, but I did not know what had happened to the magazine.
And, secondly, we use this article when talking about something general (some, some, any), rather than a specific.
I’d like to buy a dress. — I’d like to buy a dress. (talking about any dress, not about any particular)
Would you like an apple? — Apple want? (any)
This topic is closely related to the other as described in the articles that need to pay attention:
- «Zero article in the English language»
- «The definite article in English»
- «The location of the article in English»
- «Articles of nouns as a function of the application»
After reading them, we recommend to pass the following test: «Test # 1 on the use of articles in the English language.»