UTS site search
HELPS U Learn U Pass U Connect


Which one do I use?

The use of articles (A, An, The & Zero) in English can be confusing and frustrating for non-native speakers. It is essential in academic work that students understand how to use articles appropriately and correctly.

Take a look at the explanations below which outline the rules of using A/An/The/Zero article correctly.





Indefinite (non-specific)
talking about things in general


no article

no article

Definite (specific)
talking about particular things





Also remember:


Use of A/An

When you are introducing something new, or something that the reader or listener is not aware of, use a/an with singular nouns (e.g. The lecturer handed us a new assignment question).

A is used before a noun (or noun phrase) that begins with a consonant sound (e.g. a literature review);

An is used before a noun (or noun phrase) that begins with a vowel sound (e.g. an assignment).


Use of The

Use the to indicate that the noun that follows is something that the reader or listener is aware of. The reader or listener knows what 'it is' by referring forward or backward in the text or conversation.

The most popular smartphone in Australia is the iPhone, which accounts for 36.5% of the smartphone market share. (Definite singular noun)
The amount of information freely available on the Internet seems to be infinite. (Definite uncountable noun)

Use of 'Zero' Article (no article)

Leave out articles before plural and uncountable nouns when you are referring to things 'in general'.

Fifty percent of the Australian population are now using smartphones. (Indefinite plural noun)
Increasingly, smartphones have replaced computers when it comes to accessing information from the Internet. (Indefinite uncountable noun)

Most place names do not require the definite article, except when there is an adjective or 'of' in the name; or a plural noun in the name.

Although Apple is based in The United States of America, most of their products are manufactured in The People’s Republic of China. Apple products are widely popular in many Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, and Indonesia.


For more help

For more help with grammar issues affecting your assignment work, there are many useful resources on the HELPS website, as well as in the UTS Library. You can also come and talk to the HELPS Advisors who can assist you.


Back to top


Grammar articles (PDF, 189.24kB, 2 pages)