Articles are words that used together with nouns or adjectives.  They are regarded as a class of determiner and not a word class. The articles normally in most cases are placed before a noun.

Example of articles are a, an, the and zero articles.

Look the following examples

(i)        The car


(ii)       A good boy


(iii)      An x-ray



  1. Normally placed before Noun

For examples

(i)        A national party


(ii)       A European


(iii)      The Sun


2. In some cases Articles used before Adjective + Common noun

For examples

(i)        A    good     boy

Adjective    Noun

(ii)       A    good       Musician

Adjective   Noun

(iii)      The  West      German

Adjective   Noun

3. Also sometimes Articles are placed before Number +  Common Noun

For examples

(i)        The six        boys

Number    Noun

(ii)       A one        cow

Number    Noun


1. Articles is used to clarify the Noun (i.e to make noun clear with reference to the given context).

For example

(i) The sun (i.e article the used to specify that there is only one sun)

(ii)  A boy  (i.e A used to suggest that boy is unknown or there is only


2. Articles is used to express which particular items are referred to a given context

For examples

(i)  The tiger (i.e article the used to denote the idea of a class of animals)

(ii)       A tiger (i.e article A used to denote the idea of one kind of animals

3. Articles is used to express the specific things from the general one

For examples

(i)  The boy (i.e the used to express the idea that the boy is well known by everyone)

(ii) A boy (i.e A used to express the idea that the boy is not well



There are three main types of articles



Those are articles that express the idea that the given noun is known from the given context. Definite articles express things, place or person that is clear to us.

Definite article is The

For example

(i)        The Earth

(ii)       The boy

(iii)      The president Kikwete


  1. It used to express the unique thing (i.e the things that only one exist in the world).

(i)        The  sun

(ii)       The equator

(iii)      The  earth

(iv)      The Mt. Kilimanjaro

  • The President of Tanzania
  • The Moon
  • The River Malagalasi
  1. It used to express the noun that is expressed for the second time (i.e this means the noun is already known in the context when introduced for the first time).

For example

  • John bough a radio and sold the radio to the people

1st time                                        2nd time

  • A boy who killed a thief. The boy report to the police
  • I bough a shirt. The shirt is now old.
  • A boy was here for two hours yesterday. The  boy was looking something in this place.  The  boy was considered as a thief by many people.  He was carrying a radio.  the radio was good and new one.
  1. It used to express the part of the house

For example

  • The wall
  • The kitchen
  • The window
  • The floor
  • The roof
  1. It used together with superlative adjectives (i.e those adjective that end up with suffix iest or begin with most)

For example

  • The biggest boy
  • The most beautiful
  • The longest river
  • The most cleaver
  1. It used before the name of the country which consist an adjective

For example

  • The United Kingdom
  • The Soviet Union
  • The United Arab
  1. It used before the organization and political parties

For example

  • The O.A.U
  • The UNO
  • The NCCR
  • The FAO
  • The UMD
  1. It used to express the historical event

For example

  • The Arusha Declaration
  • The Majimaji War
  • The Tanzanian Independence
  1. It used to express a title of books and films

For example

  • The Lion of the people
  • The Pearl of Africa
  • The Tragedy of the true blood
  1. It used to express the public institution (i.e institution that are owned by public)

For example

  • The police
  • The TBC
  • The RTD
  1. It used to express a noun that is well specified by relative pronoun

For example

  • The boy who comes always become a president
  • The girl who killed yesterday is my aunt
  • The ladies who steal my pocket are waiting you


Sometime preposition in is used

  • The boy in the garden
  • The flower in the garden
  • The girl in the hotel
  • The women in the car
  1. It used together with the expression of time

For examples

  • In the afternoon
  • In the night
  • In the morning

Are those articles that express the idea that the given noun is unknown from the given context.

Examples of Idefinite article are a and an


A – Is used with those noun that start with consonant sound (b, c, d,…..z)

AN – Is used with those noun that start with vowel sound (a, e, i, o, u) and (silent h sound).


  1. They used to introduce something or person at the first time (i.e That is unknown in the given context).

For examples

(i) I bought a radio.  The radio was so good

1st time

(ii) I read a book and the book seems to be good

1st time

  • An egg should be given to children
  1. They used before abbreviation that is not an organization or political party

For examples

  • I have bough aW (Volkswagen)
  • I have a B.sc (Bachelor of Science)
  • I hold a P.H.D of University of Dar es Salaam.
  1. They used to show the abnormality included the state of illness

For examples

  • I have a cold
  • He was suffered from a headache
  • They are recovered fro ma fever
  1. They are used to describe someone nationality

For examples

  • He is an American
  • She is an African
  • He is a Tanzanian

NB:      AN is used together with any noun start with vowel sound and silent h sound.  These general rules do not reflect the beginning letters or spelling of the noun but the beginning sound.

For examples

  • An European
  • An X-ray
  • An F.B.I
  • An Egg
  • An Umbrella
  • An Apple
  • An Hour

Is the omission of an article before a noun.  Zero articles means no article before noun.


  1. There is non articles (zero articles) before plural countable noun.

For examples

  • Boys play very well

(ii)       Women speak with authority

(iii)      Plants grow during a rain season

  1. There is no articles (zero articles) before uncountable noun

For examples

  • Sand
  • Life
  • Butter
  • Water
  1. There is no articles (zero articles) before a kind of language

For examples

  • English
  • French
  • Swahili
  1. There is no articles (zero articles) before proper noun

For examples

  • Hamisi
  • Ally
  • Ann
  • Neema


Supply suitable article in the space provided either by using a, an  or the

1. ________________Mt. Kilimanjaro found in Tanzania

2. ________________oil is vital in our economy

3. I have _________________B.sc of University of Kenyatta

4. ________________Nile is _______________longest river

5. ___________________exercise book must be returned

6. __________________moon must be seen today night

7. __________________girl who died is my aunt

8. Don’t waste even______________hour today

9. _______________electric light bulb contains filaments

10. Let us report the news to____P.C.C.B institution for further investigation.

11. She is _________________strongest woman in this country

12. There is ____________________broken glass on _______________floor

13. She arrive here in____________________afternoon

14. Report from ______________________UNESCO gives us a true picture

15. __________________death of Kinjekitile Ngwale help us Tanzanian to get its independence in 1961.

16. _______________United Republic of Tanzania retain its peace environment since independence.

17. I have ____________________M.A (Master of Art)

18. Take it to________________kitchen

19. This is _________________honorable person

20. I think you have _________________malaria

21. One there was___________________old woman nothing can be done.

22. ____________bird flies on the trees

23. I have got___________________ headache


Supply either zero article in the spce or other types of articles i.e an, a, the

1. ____________________grass always grow in the field

2. ___________________bird flies in _________________air

3. ______________water and _______________milk are uncountable things

4. _______________Swedish is very easy to learn

5. _________________boys will be able to climb _____________Mt. Kilimanjaro

6. ________________egg support ___________________life of use

7. _________________John lives in____________________ United State


Fill in the blanks with articles THE, A / AN, or  where there is no article needed

Ordering a new TV

A: Hello. I was wondering if you 1)________ new Sony AT10? I haven’t seen 2)_________ single one on display. In your catalog you say 3)__________ model is available.

B: Hello, sir. We have that specific model available. However, we sold 4)________ last one here yesterday. We can, however, order 5)________ TV for you to be delivered here, or to your home address.

A: That’s great 6)________ news. Thank you so much.

B: Are you aware of 7)__________ discount on that particular model if you pay in 8)_________ cash?

A: No, I didn’t know. How big is 9)_________ discount?

B: If you pay in 10)__________ cash we will add 11)__________ 25% discount to 12)__________ original price.

A: Wow! That’s amazing. Yes, I can buy 13)__________ TV in 14)__________ cash. Will there be 15)_________ surcharge if I order it to my home address?

B: Yes, there will be 16)_________ delivery fee added to your order. It’s 17)_________ small fee compared to 18)_________ discount.

A: Of course. Let’s do it that way then.

B: Excellent choice, sir. Let me just print out 19)___________ delivery and order forms, so you can get 20)_________ TV as soon as possible

A: Thank you so much.

B: You’re welcome, sir. It’s 21)__________ great TV, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Answers and explanations

1) THE – we use “the” in this case because the TV is a specific model. Among all the other Sony TVs that one is the only AT10

2) A – “a” is used here because the buyer is looking for even a single AT10 among all the possible AT10s. It’s a matter of looking for a thing within a stack of the same thing

3) THE – “the” is used because the AT10 is a specific model

4) THE – “the” is used here because “the” goes in front of any specific number. The last, the first, the second or third, etc. This is because it’s a specific thing, with a specific numeral value

5) THE – here we use “the” because the teller is talking about the specific TV the buyer wants

6) – no article is used here because news is an uncountable noun

7) THE – because the teller and buyer are talking about a specific model TV, the discount on that TV is also specific

8) – no article is used because “pay in cash” is a fixed expression. Cash is also an uncountable noun. While you can count the amount of money you have, that doesn’t matter because grammatically the noun “cash” is uncountable

9) THE – “the” specific discount for the specific TV

10) – “pay in cash”

11) A – we use “a” in this case because it’s one possibility our of many. 25% is just a single option out of 100. When there are many options, especially when we use %, “a” is used because it’s one of many

12) THE – “the” is used here because it’s a very specific price. The original price means that it’s one a kind. There can’t be more than one original prices

13) THE – because they’re still talking about the specific TV

14) – “pay in cash”

15) A – there are many possible surcharges that can be added to the final price for a product. A delivery surcharge is only one of many options. That’s why we use “a” in this case

16) A – similarly with 15) we use “a” because it’s one of many possible fees. Usually when things are added to something we use “a” because it means that one of the many possibilities was chosen

17) A – again, similar to both 15) and 16). In this case it’s a comparison, and we often compare one of many things to something specific. This is that kind of case

18) THE – because here we can see how “a small fee” is being compared to the one and only established “discount”

19) THE – in this case we have the plural noun “forms,” and we always use “the” with plural forms

20) THE – they are talking about the specific TV and model

21) A – here we use “a” because it’s one of the great TVs. It’s not the best, so it’s not the one and only best TV, but it is great along with all the other great TVs


Fill in the blanks with articles THE, A / AN, or – if there’s no article required there

The House on the Hill part 1

Our friends told us about 1) ______ little town outside of 2) ______ city. They said it is 3) ______amazing. 4) ______ people are nice, 5) ______ food is local, and there is even 6) ______ small souvenir shop. It’s pretty hard to get to, but 7) ______ ride is worth it. So, we decided to pack 8) ______ suitcase, find 9) ______ place to stay, and spend 10) ______ week there. We also wanted to explore around 11) ______ town. We just moved to 12) ______ city, and wanted to see something different for 13) ______ change too.

We started 14) ______ trip on Monday, and it took us almost three hours to get to 15) ______ town. We got lost one or two times along 16) ______ way. On 17) ______ dirt road that didn’t go anywhere. When we finally made it 18) ______ town was everything we expected. Small town square with 19) ______ water fountain. 20) ______ church right on 21) ______ square, and 22) ______ small bazaar with local produce. 23) ______ people were just as nice as our 24) ______ friends said they would be. We found our guest house easily, and 25) ______ owner let us up to our room on 26) ______ top floor.

First we relaxed for 27) ______ bit. Took 28) ______ shower, changed clothes, and went out to get 29) ______ bite to eat. 30) ______ owner of 31) ______ guest house recommended 32) ______ restaurant right across from 33) ______ church. He said it was 34) ______ best in town. Probably because it was 35) ______ only one in town we could find. 36) ______ food was great, extremely spicy for my taste, and 37) ______ waiters were chatty. We asked them about 38) ______ outskirts of 39) ______ town. Some hiking routes, places to see, and 40) ______ things to do in general.

It all sounded very nice. We were sure we could have 41) ______ relaxing holiday in 42) ______ town. Then one of 43) ______ younger kids who were running around 44) ______ restaurant came up to us. He started telling us 45) ______ story about 46) ______ place that 47) ______ older people in 48) ______ town won’t tell you about. He said 49) ______ kids in 50) ______ town only know of it. 51) ______special place not too far away from 52) ______ church.

In 53) ______ forest, on top of 54) ______ hill south of 55) ______ town, there’s 56) ______ house. 57) ______ kid told us it’s been there for hundreds of years. He also said that it was haunted.

We always loved 58) ______ adventures. I always wanted to see 59) ______ haunted house. We decided to check it out as soon as 60) ______ sun sets.

Answers and explanations

1) A: because the town is not named, and it’s one of many towns

2) THE: we use THE here because the person talking lives in a specific city. From their point of view it’s THE city where they live

3) – : no article here because it’s in front of an adjective without a noun

4) THE: because people living in that town are THE people

5) THE: the food their grow is their food, THE food

6) A: here we use A because the souvenir shop is not special, there are many like it in other towns. It’s a general statement not specific to only that town

7) THE: THE specific amount of time it takes to get to the town

8) A: general statement, the phrase being “to pack a suitcase” just means to pack your things

9) A: there are many places to stay, and they want one of them

10) A: A week because it’s not a highly specific amount. It can be shorter or longer still

11) THE: because the town has been mentioned before, now it’s specific

12) THE: place where the speaker lives

13) A: “for A change” is a fixed expression

14) THE: specific trip they are making

15) THE: specific destination, and the town is already mentioned before

16) THE: “along THE way” is a fixed expression

17) A: one of the many dirt roads that lead to the town

18) THE: specific town, already mentioned

19) A: we use A here because describing things in general, without saying all the specifics about a certain place. Generally, A is used when saying which kinds of buildings are wherein a town. You are just naming the type of building and not the specific one at that specific place

20) A: same as before, a general description

21) THE: here we use THE because the square was mentioned before

22) A: general description

23) THE: specific people who live in that town

24) – : there are no articles after possessive pronouns, like OUR

25) THE: we use THE because there can be a specific owner. We can also use THE with the plural forms, like THE owners. THE is used when talking about specific positions, like owner, director, doctor, etc.

26) THE: there can only be one top floor

27) A: “for A bit” is a fixed expression

28) A: “take A shower” is also fixed, because there isn’t only one shower you ever took

29) A: “get A bite” is fixed

30) THE: specific owner

31) THE: the guest house was mentioned before, now it’s specific

32) A: the owner recommended A restaurant among the many that there might be in the town

33) THE: church was mentioned before and it’s now a specific one

34) THE: we use because there can, technically, be only one best thing. In general we use THE with best

35) THE: the same thing goes for THE only

36) THE: THE specific food in the specific restaurant

37) THE: waiters are from that same specific restaurant

38) THE: since the town is a specific one THE outskirts are too

39) THE: specific town where they are staying

40) – : no article in front of things because here it’s uncountable

41) A: one of the many holidays they had and will have

42) THE: specific town

43) THE: kids who were running means they are described, specific, and because of that we use THE

44) THE: specific restaurant where they are sitting

45) A: the story is not specific before he starts telling it

46) A: a specific place is not mentioned yet

47) THE: older people describes them and they are specific now

48) THE: town where they are staying

49) THE: kids were mentioned before

50) THE: specific town

51) A: no specific place mentioned yet

52) THE: the church is known and mentioned before

53) A: he is just describing the forest, and where it is

54) A: the hill has yet to be described completely

55) THE: specific town

56) A: this is the first time he mentions A house, and where it is

57) THE: the kid is known and mentioned before, he’s telling the story

58) – : adventures here is uncountable

59) A: there are many haunted houses, and the speaker always wanted to see at least one of them

60) THE: there is only one sun


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