The ARTICLES in English: Definite, Indefinite, Partitive, Zero, Negative, Demonstrative, Interrogative, Personal + QUIZ

The ARTICLES in English

The most common word in English is the article “the.” As in many languages, articles in English are very common and often essential to communicate with clarity. Articles are either definite or indefinite in the sense that they give you information about the nouns in a sentence and allow you to know with greater clarity and comprehension which person, place or thing is being talked about.

Below are the various types of articles you should acquaint yourself with if you want to perfect your English.

Definite Article in English

The definite article in English is “the“.

Use the definite article before a noun when you want to talk about that specific and particular place, person or thing.

For example:

  • The gym: I am going to the gym.
  • The man: The man sitting in front of me is filming me on his I-phone.
  • The book: The book is very interesting.

 II. You should also use the definite article in the following circumstances:

To refer to a place such as a mountain range, an ocean, a country with multiple states, principalities or islands, Cinema, Seas,  and certain organizations. In some instances, the “the” indicates that there is only one of that place, person or thing.

For example:

  • The Andes Mountains
  • The Maldives
  • The Caribbean
  • The Caribbean Sea
  • The North Sea
  • The West Indies
  • The principality of Monaco
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States
  • The Atlantic Ocean
  • The Pacific Ocean
  • The Suez Canal
  • The Seine
  • The Thames
  • The French Alps
  • The United Nations
  • The World Bank
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Agreement
  • The Gem Cinemas
  • The White House
  • The president of the United State
  • The president of Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • The Irish Republic
  • The South of France
  • The West
  • The sun
  • The moon
  • The sky
  • The environment
  • The Earth
  • The government of Tunisia
  • The Pentagon


Do you know the rules for using articles in English?

III. Do not use “the” in the following circumstances:

  • To refer to lakes such as Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario (but you would say the Great Lakes)
  • To refer to Streets, Avenues and Boulevards such as: Antebullum Street, Madison Boulevard and Jones Avenue (but you would say (the street, the avenue, the boulevard, the Champs Ellyseés)
  • To refer to Continents, States and Lakes  such as Africa, Michigan and Victoria
  • To refer to cities such as Paris, New York and Melbourne
  • To refer to countries such as Nigeria, France, and Brazil (unless the country is composed of several states, islands or is a principality of another.)
  • To refer to hills and mountains such as Everest and Kilamanjaro
  • To refer to roads, Streets, Squares and Parks such as Park Street, Union Square and Central Park
  • To refer to airports, theatres, shops, restaurants, cinemas, hotels and galleries.


Indefinite Article in English

The indefinite articles in English are “a” “an” “some” and “any”

(some and any are usually used with uncountable nouns. Any water, any money, some milk, some food. But they can also be used with countable nouns such as some friends, some grapes, some chocolates, some apples, any apples, any grapes, any books).

I. Use “a”  and “an” to refer to singular nouns that are not referring to a specific person, place or thing.

II. Note that “any” is usually used in a question or negative sentence.

For example:

  • A man: A man just walked out of Starbucks with a loaded gun.
  • A book: I would like to buy a book for a nine year old.
  • A gym: I have to join a gym otherwise I won’t be able to fit into my clothes.

II. Use some and any to refer to plural nouns. (Note that “any” is most often used with a negative or in the interrogative.)

  • Some food: I need to go to the supermarket to buy some food
  • any cheese: Is there any cheese left in the fridge?
  • any apples: Don’t we have any apples?

The Partitive Articles in English

The partitive articles are “some” “any” (you can also say “a lot of” or “a few”)

The partitive articles in English is used to parts of a whole. It refers to a quantity or part of a mass noun such as food, water, mud, air etc.

For example:

  • some tea: May I have some tea.
  • any bread: There isn’t any bread left in the bread bin.
  • some food: Have some food before you leave.
  • any air: There isn’t any air in this room.
  • any water: Do you have any water?
  • some mud: There is some mud over there. (you can drop “some” in this sentence – zero article)

 Zero Articles in English

I. Use zero article when you are generalizing people, places or things.


  • Asians are usually very good cooks.
  • Doctors are scary when they refuse to listen.
  • Mosques and Temples are holy places of worship so you should be respectful.
  • Mosquitoes are the devil’s children.

II. When you are talking about uncountable plural nouns and ideas.

For example:

  • I have () money in my cellar.
  • There is () water on the ground.
  • You have ()  mud on your boots
  • Do you have () cheese?

III. Abstract Nouns do not need an article.

For example:

  • Litigation: The case is proceeding to () litigation. (But, the litigation is proceeding)
  • Negotiation: () Negotiation is key to this transaction. (But, the negotiation was the key to the transaction)
  • Education: In Guam, () education is not as important as family connections.
  • Courage: () Courage and fortitude will see you though this ordeal.
  • Love: () Love is the answer.
  • Music: () Music lovers unanimously panned the album.
  • Peace: Without () peace there can be no justice.


III. You don’t need an article in front of the names of countries, lakes, streets, airports, metros, subways, universities, academic subjects, languages, churches, days of the week, sports, etc

For example:

  • () South Africa is truly spectacular.
  • The most beautiful lake in the world is () Lake Ontario.
  • () Bourbon Street is a major tourist attraction.
  • I like () football.
  • He worships at () St Peter’s Church.
  • My dream is to go to () Harvard University.
  • () History is a very boring subject.
  • I hate () Mondays!



Negative articles in English

The negative article in English is “no.”


  • No one can come into this room
  • No man is an island
  • No human has ever roamed these everglades
  • No city is prepared for such a disaster.
  • Under no circumstance will I allow that to happen in this organization.

The Demonstrative Article (pronoun or adjective) in English

The Demonstrative article in English is “this” “that” “these” and “those”


  • This situation is beyond the pale.
  • That situation was beyond the pale.
  • These emails are inappropriate in a business setting.
  • Those emails were inappropriate in a business setting.


Interrogative article (or pronoun) in English

The interrogative articles/pronouns in English are “which” “what” and “whose” “where” “when” and “how”.

These are called “determiners although in other languages such as french, they would be considered “articles.”

Interrogative articles interrogates the listener for information about a person, place or thing (nouns) and the answers to interrogative pronouns are somewhat “definite” and measurable. The key is in the noun that follows the adjective. (Note that other WH words such as “how” “where” and “when” are not considered as interrogative adjective because typically they are not followed by a noun.)

For example:

  • What color is your hair.
  • Which guy do you think is cutest?
  • Whose book is this?

(Not, how are you? When are you coming back? Where is the soda machine? (these are followed by linking verbs and not by a noun. Though they are interrogative pronouns, they are not really interrogative adjectives/articles.))

Possessive articles in English

The possessive articles/adjectives in English are “my,” “your,” “his,” “our,” “your,” and “their”


  • My dress is too tight because I have eaten too much.
  • Your hand is touching my derriere please remove it.
  • Our country is going through a crisis right now.
  • Their father is a billionaire.

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