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Parts of speech

Learn more about English parts of speech, such as prepositions and articles, to help you become a more confident writer.

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Articles generally precede a noun and include "a", "an", and "the". There are two types of articles:

Definite Article: "The"

  • Used before a specific singular or plural noun
    • e.g., The dogs chased the fox in the field.

Indefinite Article: "A" or "an"

  • "A" or "an" indicate that a noun is unspecific and can refer to any member of a group.
    e.g., A bird just flew past the window. (bird is unspecific - it could be any bird)

The video below will provide you with an introduction to articles. While the video is playing, click "Outline" to navigate through the presentation or "Notes" to see the transcript.

If you'd like help with identifying where articles are missing in sentences, try the Sentence Checkup, which is a free, online tool that provides feedback on sentence-level grammar. The feedback comment you'll receive if a noun is missing an article is "possible missing determiner". As with all online tools, please consider the feedback carefully before making changes to your text; also, the checker may not catch every error, so make sure to carefully review your writing versus relying entirely on the tool.

View slides and transcript in slide notes: Introduction to Articles (PowerPoint).


Purdue University. (n.d.). How to use articles (a/an/the). Purdue Online Writing Lab.