Use of articles in English

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This article was originally produced by V. Lynn Baucom for Dragoman’s in-house training curriculum.

Use of indefinite articles

  • A and an are used if the noun can be counted

A shareholder identified an embarrassing error in the company’s investor presentation.

A or an is used to introduce a noun when it is mentioned for the first time in a piece of writing

  • The is used afterward each time you mention that same noun

A member of the Board of Directors publicly praised the astute shareholder.

The same Board of Directors member privately called the shareholder a “know-it-all butthead.” 


Use of definite articles

  • Used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is particular or specific

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) advised Sekerbank on the risk management strategies it adopted for the 2008 fiscal year.

BCG advised the bank on other issues as well.

  • Used with uncountable nouns that are made more specific by a limiting modifying phrase or clause

The risk management philosophy guiding Sekerbank’s strategies is controversial within the banking industry.

  • Used when a noun refers to something unique

Sekerbank’s results for the 2008 fiscal year were the best in the bank’s history.

  • Also, geographic names which consist of a description

The Republic of Turkey, but not the Turkey

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom (but, Great Britain)

The Middle East, the Balkan region (but Central & Eastern Europe)


Use of articles – UK

UK versus US

Lynn’s American friends think he should go to the hospital when these “episodes” occur in the future.

His British friends think he should be taken to hospital in future.  (Dragomanisti just think he’s beyond medical help.)


Which is “correct” and which one is Dragoman Style? Dragoman uses AP Style unless otherwise requested by our clients. We prefer not to overuse “the“.


Never use articles with the following

Some nouns simply never take an article

  • Names of languages and nationalities

Turkish, English, Chinese, etc.

  • Sports

Football, Billiards, Formula One, Basketball, etc.

  • Names of academic subjects or fields

Information technology , Banking, History, Medicine, Mathematics