A & An: How to Use Them.
Before starting this video, please watch the lessons on A versus An, and Count and Non-Count Nouns.
If you have watched A versus An, you know that they are called indefinite articles.
You also know that you use a with words that start with consonant sounds, and an with words that start with vowel sounds.
So, how do we use them?
First, they go with singular count nouns, for example, computer and elephant.
They are countable and they are singular.
Therefore, I can say a computer and an elephant.
The indefinite article, a and an, and the singular count noun, act like a two-person team.
On a side note, the two-person team can grow bigger.
This means that you can add more members into the team.
An adjective, or an adverb plus adjective.
These words go between the a and an, and a singular count noun.
For example, I add the adjective old to a computer.
I also add the adverb and adjective very small to an elephant.
Do you notice something strange?
I hope so.
Old starts with the vowel sound, o.
That means that you need to change a to an, an old computer.
Then very starts with a consonant sound v, v.
Here, you need to change an to a.
A very small elephant.
Second, they are used when the speaker wants to give general facts about a thing or a person.
Let's look at the following sentences.
A computer is much faster now compared to 20 years ago.
An elephant has very big ears.
Here, I am giving facts on all computers and all elephants.
Third, I can use indefinite articles to talk about things that aren't specific.
For example, you can use a computer to write your report.
Here, it doesn't matter which computer you use.
You can use this one, or this one, or this one, any one of them is okay.
The next example, when I went on a safari, I saw an elephant.
Since the listener did not go on the safari, she or he doesn't know the elephant that I saw.
In his or her mind, the image of the elephant is not the same as mine.
But that doesn't matter, because I am just saying that I saw one.
Fourth, I use indefinite articles to introduce something for the first time.
For example, I am talking to my friend about a bottle that I designed.
I say to her, today, I designed a bottle in class.
My friend has not heard me talk about the bottle before.
She is hearing about it for the first time.
Let's do a quick review.
Indefinite articles are used with singular count nouns to give general facts, to
talk about about non-specific things, and to introduce something for the first time.
I would like to add a couple of reminders.
First, remember to check the word immediately after a and
an to decide which one to use, like a book versus an old book.Next, remember to keep the original team of a and an with noun together.
Yes, you can put words like adverbs and adjectives between them, but
the indefinite article and noun are the original members.
They must stay together.
You cannot say, I have an old, or I have a very small.
You must have a singular noun after.
Now, you are ready to move on to the next lesson and learn about other types of articles.