Articles for Common Nouns

Use the if a reader could identify the noun specifically.


  • Please turn off the lights. We’re not going to the museum tomorrow. (Count)
  • The food throughout Korea is excellent (Non-count)

Use a/an if the noun refers to a single item that is not specific. Never use a/an with plural or non-count nouns.


  • Bring an eraser to class. You’ll be using a pencil to write an essay today. (Count)

Use a quantifier such as enough, many, some, etc. if the noun represents and unspecified amount and that amount is more than one but not all.


  • Amanda showed us some souvenirs of her trip to New Orleans. Many birds go there in the summer. (Count)
  • We didn’t get enough snow this winter.

Use no article if the noun represents all items in a category or the category in general.


  • Teachers can attend the game for free. Actors must report backstage by 5:00 p.m. (Count)
  • Gold is a natural resource.


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About Writing: A Guide Copyright © 2015 by Robin Jeffrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.