Rules For Articles - Verbal Ability Section

This article will provide concepts and rules for articles with examples in the English Language that holds relevance not just for various competitive exams but in day to day life as well.

Aspirants of various Government exams are advised to go through the rules of articles carefully as the English language is a part of most of these examinations. 

What is an Article?

The article is a word that combines with noun/s and defines whether a noun in any sentence or phrase is specific or general. 

Example: After the long tiring day, the cup of tea refreshed mind and body.

In this sentence, the use of the article ‘the’ specifies the one day that was tiring and that one specific cup of tea refreshed body and mind.  

Article Rules PDF:-Download PDF Here

What are the Types of Articles in English Grammar?

There are two types of articles in English, Definite article (The) and Indefinite article (A, An).

Definite Article examples: 

  1. He threw the ball in the well.
  2. I saw the thieves stealing jewels
  3. Where are the notes I shared with you yesterday?

Indefinite Article Example: 

  1. She wore a pretty pink dress
  2. I saw tigers in a zoo.
  3. He is not good as an actor
  4. An apple a day builds immunity.

Let’s get ahead with the important rules of articles to use them correctly in the English language section of the exams or even while speaking in daily lives. 

For comprehensive preparation of various Government exams, check the links for assistance

Rules For Articles With Examples

The rules for articles given below are divided based on the types of articles.

Article Rules for the definite article ‘The’

Rule 1 – The very basic rule of the article says that the article ‘the’ is used before singular or plural when the noun is specific. It indicates a particular thing/s or person/s in case of a common noun. 


The teacher she spoke to in the exhibition was very rude.

He lost all the money taken from the lender.

Rule 2 – Article ‘The’ is used when the listener knows what the speaker is talking about.


The mangoes you kept in the refrigerator last night do not taste good.

Did you complete all the homework?

Rule3 – ‘The’ is used to generalize the whole class or group.


The honest are respected

The beggars are not always the needy

Rule 4 – ‘The’ is used for geographical points on the globe.

Example: The north pole and the south pole can never meet.

Rule 5 – ‘The’ is used for the nouns that cannot be counted


The water of the Pacific oceans is freezing. 

Two robbers took all the money from the bank.

Rule 6 – ‘The’ is used with geographical nouns depending on the size and plurality of the noun. The must precede the names of oceans, rivers, group of islands, lakes, mountains, countries with united states or islands,etc


The Ganga is a holy river.

The English Channel is the longest river channel.

However, ‘the’ must not precede the following

  • Name of continents, like Asia. South America, etc
  • Name of the countries, states or streets like, Alaska, bolivia, New town street etc.
  • Name of Single lakes, mountains, islands or bays, like, chills lake, hudson bay, etc.
  • Names of languages like Spanish, French, etc.
  • Names of Sports such as basketball, cricket, football, etc.
  • Names of the subjects like, Economics, Mathematics, History, etc. 

Rule 7 – ‘The’ is mandatorily used for things that are only one of a kind in the universe.


The Sun and the Moon shines bright in the sky.

The planet earth looks beautiful from space.

Rule 8 – ‘The’ does not mean all. 


The books are my favourite (not all the books, just the book talked about)

Books are my favourite (all the books, in general, are favourite)

Check other relevant English language topics given below-

For more English language topics discussing concepts, rules, lists and uses of General English for competitive exams, check the linked page.

Article Rule for Indefinite Article ‘A’ and ‘An’

Rule 1 – The article ‘a’ is used before a consonant word or any vowel with a consonant sound. 

Indefinite article examples:

A man is sitting on the chair.

She goes to a university in Delhi.

Similarly, the article ‘an’ is used before the words beginning with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u)or the letter of a consonant word with a vowel sound. 

Indefinite article examples:

She is an innocent girl

He is an honest man.

Rule 2 – A singular common noun always requires an article ‘a or an’, but a plural common noun does not require any article or can have ‘the’ to particularise that noun.


I saw an elephant. (Refers to a random elephant)

I saw elephants in a zoo. (No article is required)

I have seen the elephant again. (Refers to the elephant already seen earlier)

I have seen the elephants again before leaving the zoo. (Refers to the particular elephants of the zoo which was seen earlier.)

Rule 3 – A/An is used to make Proper nouns a common noun. Proper nouns do not take articles but to make it a common noun a/an is used.


He thinks he is a Michel Jackson. (not referring to the actual person but someone like him)

She is an Indian. (India is a proper noun but ‘Indian’ is a common noun)

Rule 4 – Indefinite article ‘a, or an’ is used to refer to numbers sometimes.


The baby is playing with a doll (one doll)

I owe him a thousand bucks. (one thousand dollar)

He drove 120 kilometres in an hour (one hour)

Rule 5 – The indefinite article (a/an) precedes the descriptive adjective


She is an amazing dancer

What a nice Villa!

Rule 6 – The indefinite article is used with the determiners(few, lot, most)


There is a little drink in the glass

I have a few guests coming over

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When Not to Use an Article

We do not use any article at all for some cases. The article ‘a’ and ‘the’ are not used for the following cases:

  1. When Plural Noun is talked about:

Correct – Girls like pink (the sentence is talking about girls in general)

Correct – The girls in my hostel like to play kabaddi. (the sentence is talking about girls specifically of the hostel)

  1. When Uncountable nouns are talked about

Correct – Water Scarcity is a problem. (it is uncountable)

Correct – The Water scarcity in my locality is a problem. (talking about specific locality)

Incorrect – There is a water scarcity in my locality. (here again scarcity is uncountable)

  1. When Real Nouns are talked about i.e. names of people or places

Incorrect – I want to visit the Australia.

Incorrect  – She talks to the Sam for articles.

English Grammar Article Rules PDF:-Download PDF Here

Sample Questions- Article Rules for English Grammar Section

The importance of knowing the rules of articles for the English section of various competitive exams can only be understood by knowing the type of questions asked in the examination based on the same.

Hence, given below are the samples questions of Articles in the English Language asked in the verbal ability section of various government examinations:

Directions – Pick out the best-suited article for each sentence.

Q1. ____ lilies in your backyard are beautiful.

  1. A
  2. The
  3. An
  4. No article

Answer (2)

Q.2. How much ____ snow do you get in winters?

  1. A
  2. An
  3. The
  4. No Article

Answer (4)

Q.3. Where’s ___ axe he just used?

  1. An
  2. A
  3. The
  4. No article

Answer (3) 

Q.4. She ate ___ fruits for lunch.

  1. The
  2. A
  3. An
  4. No article

Answer (4)

Q.5. We saw ___ lions in ___ Safari

  1. The, the
  2. The, A
  3. The, no article
  4. No article, the

Answer (4) 

Article rules are important not just for the objective verbal ability section but also plays a major role in the descriptive section such as reading comprehension, essay, letter writing etc.

For more variety and scope of Articles in English grammar questions asked in various competitive exams, go through Previous Year Question Papers PDF with Solutions

Candidates who are preparing for the upcoming government exams must carefully go through the concept of Article rules as candidates tend to score the least in the English Language section of these exams.

Aspirants of various government exams can refer to the detailed exam syllabus in the links given below:

For any further questions or information regarding the competitive exams, study material or best books for preparation, candidates can turn to BYJU’S.

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