The position of an article in a sentence is an integral aspect of English language grammar. In order to construct sentences that are grammatically sound, it is important to understand how and where to place the articles ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’ within the sentence structure. Here, we will delve deeper into the topic and provide you with a comprehensive guide on the position of an article in a sentence.
Understanding What Articles Are
Articles are considered as adjectives in English language as they provide additional detail about the noun. There are two types of articles in English grammar:
- Definite Article: The word ‘the’ is a definite article. It refers to a particular noun that is already known to the listener or reader.
- Indefinite Articles: The words ‘a’ and ‘an’ are indefinite articles. They refer to a noun that is not specific or known to the listener or reader.
Definite and indefinite articles have different rules for placement in a sentence, which we will explore in the following sections.
Position of the Definite Article ‘The’
Using ‘The’ with Specific Nouns
The definite article ‘the’ is usually placed before the noun it defines. This is mainly used when both the speaker and listener are aware of the specific noun being referred to.
- The dog is barking.
- I am going to the market.
Using ‘The’ with Superlatives and Ordinal Numbers
'The' is also used before superlatives and ordinal numbers. In these instances, 'the' also comes before the noun it defines.
- She is the best player in our team.
- You're the first person to arrive.
Position of Indefinite Articles ‘A’ and ‘An’
Using ‘A’ and ‘An’ with Singular Nouns
Indefinite articles can be used with singular, countable nouns. ‘A’ and ‘An’ are typically placed before the noun they describe. The decision to use ‘a’ or ‘an’ depends on the phonetic (sound) initiation of the noun they modify. If the noun begins with a vowel sound, 'an' should be used. If it begins with a consonant sound, 'a' should be used.
- A cat
- An apple
‘A’ and ‘An’ with Jobs or Professions
You can also use 'a' and 'an' to talk about a person's job or profession, with the indefinite article coming before the noun it defines.
- She is a teacher.
- He's an engineer.
Using ‘A’ to Indicate Any
'A' can be used to indicate an unspecified quantity of a noun, basically translating to "any" or "one." In these cases, 'a' is precedes the noun it refers to.
- I need a book to read. (any book)
- Can I have a cookie? (one cookie)
Exceptions in the Position of Articles
Articles with Adjectives
When adjectives are used in the sentence, the article is still placed before the noun, not the adjective, despite the adjective being in front of the noun.
- An old man (not a man old)
- The blue sky (not the sky blue)
No Articles with Plural or Non-count Nouns
Generally, you do not use articles with plural or non-count nouns when speaking in general terms. However, if you're referring specifically to these nouns, 'the' is used.
- Dogs are friendly. (dogs in general)
- The dogs in my neighborhood are friendly. (specific dogs)
Mastering the position of an article in a sentence is crucial in crafting correct English sentences. While the general rule is placing the article before the noun, there are exceptions and specific situations where the rules differ. Regular practice and application of these rules will help you improve your grammar skills in no time.