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Difference Between Definite and Indefinite Articles

Definite vs Indefinite Articles

Articles are words that are used with nouns to specify the kind of attributes and relations that are being referred to by the nouns. It specifies the nouns’ overall scope including volume, numerical, and definiteness. Some languages may have several subtypes of articles but, like the English language, they can either be definite or indefinite. These types of articles may vary in form according to the gender, number, case, and sound.

A definite article is an article that indicates a particular noun which can be easily identified by the listener. It might have been distinctly specified or mentioned by the speaker in his previous statements. It is likewise used to signify a certain class among several classes. There is only one definite article in the English language which is the article “the.” “The” is a function word or article which is also used as a possessive adjective and, in prepositional phrases, to signify the noun as a basis for computation.

The article “the” is also used to indicate certain characteristics of a noun; to indicate a certain period of time in the life of a person (noun); to refer to something such as a part of an item, person, or just a thought as well as to indicate generic nouns.

Here are examples of its use in sentences:
“This is the book that my friend gave me for my birthday.”
“Life in the 1950s was marked by the recovery of the world from World War II and the development of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union.”
“This is not the life that I have been dreaming of.”

An indefinite article, on the other hand, is an article that indicates a noun which is being mentioned by the speaker for the first time and is, therefore, not one that can be particularly identified by the listener. It might also be a part of a general declaration about something.

The English language has two indefinite articles, “a” and “an.” While the article “a” is used before nouns or words that begin with consonant sounds, even if they begin with a vowel, the article “an” is used before nouns or words that begin with vowel sounds including those that are spelled beginning with consonant letters.

Examples for its use are the following sentences:
“An hour would seem an eternity when you are waiting for someone you haven’t seen in a long time.”
“I was born in a town on the outskirts of the city.”
“I prefer a European-made car over one that is made in the USA.”

Summary:

1.A definite article is an article that is used to indicate a particular noun while an indefinite article is an article that is used to indicate that the noun is about a general thing.
2.A definite article is used when one is referring to a noun which has been previously mentioned while an indefinite article is used when one is referring to something for the first time.
3.In the English language the definite article is the word “the” while the indefinite articles are the words “a” and “an.”


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