When do we use “a/an” and when do we use “the”?
Articles in English are used to modify, or add to the meaning, of a noun. We use the when we talk about:
- only one person, place, or thing
- a person, place, or thing that is already understood or has been mentioned
We use a/an when we talk about:
- a person, place, or thing in general, not referring to only one
- a person, place, or thing for the first time
John wants to buy a car (We don’t know which one). Yesterday, his friend told him about a car (We still don’t know which one) he saw for sale. John went and looked at the car (The one his friend saw) and bought it.