Articles (A/An/The) for IELTS: Using Articles for IELTS Grammar

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  • Updated On:Aug 11,2023 12:00 PM IST

Grammar acts as the foundation of a language. Articles (a, an, the) are words used before nouns. Understanding which article to use and when to use it is crucial. Read the blog to learn and master the use of articles for IELTS grammar and score high.

 Articles (AAnThe) for IELTS Using Articles for IELTS Grammar.webp
A strong grasp of grammar is essential for taking the IELTS test. There is no part of the IELTS exam that directly tests and focuses on grammar. However, proper use of grammatical words plays a vital role. It is necessary to use correct articles for IELTS grammar to get a high band score. Articles showcase the essential characteristics of nouns they are used with. Students often make mistakes with the use of articles, but it is not as hard as one might think.

Articles and Their Types
Articles are words that are used to identify a noun as being specific or unspecific. There are two types of articles-
•    Definite
•    Indefinite
The definite article (the) is used before a noun to indicate that the identity of the noun is known to the reader. The indefinite article (a, an) is used before a noun that is general or when the identity is not known. There are also certain situations in which articles are not used before a noun. Articles determine if a noun is countable or uncountable or used precisely. It can change the entire meaning of the sentence.
For Example: A cup of tea in the morning can refresh one's mind.
Here 'a' signifies a general cup of tea, while 'the' specifies a particular cup on that day.

Importance of Articles for IELTS Grammar

It is often a challenging task for candidates appearing for the IELTS test to use definite or indefinite articles, especially in the writing module. Articles are frequently used in almost every line of writing or speaking section. The errors in grammar can bring major differences in the sentence's meaning or damage the whole paragraph. Proficiency in using articles reduces the chance of grammatical errors in the exam. Students should make sure to use the articles as required to make the conversation look more professional. Articles for IELTS grammar are essential to reduce grammatical mistakes and include articles in every sentence.

Articles with Nouns

A noun is a word that refers to a thing, a person, an animal, a place, or an action. Most of the sentences during the IELTS test consist of at least one noun. It is often preceded by an article or, at times, by an adjective. The uncountable noun is impossible to count and is always singular. Articles ‘a' and 'an' cannot be used with an uncountable noun. The uncountable nouns can include intangible concepts (like information, and wealth), collections like jewellery or equipment, and homogeneous substances like air, water etc. These nouns cannot be counted individually. The uncountable nouns can be modified by indefinite adjectives like 'some'.

Use of Articles with Noun Phrases
Noun phrases are a combination of article+adjective+noun, and the use of an article depends upon the adjective that follows it.

There are certain exceptional conditions that candidates must remember while using articles for IELTS grammar, wherein nouns take the definite article 'the'. For instance, if an object or collection of things is unique or considered to be unique, the article 'the' is preferred.

When referring to historical monuments, the article 'the' is used before their names to highlight their uniqueness.

In the case of holy books, the article 'the' is consistently used since each religion possesses its own distinct sacred text. Examples include 'the Gita,' 'the Bible,' etc.

The definite article 'the' is used before natural features such as deserts, rivers, hills, forests, and oceans.

Certain countries are also preceded by the article 'the,' such as 'the United States of America,' 'the United Kingdom,' and 'the United Arab Emirates.

Articles with Pronouns

Candidates appearing for IELTS should keep in mind that articles should not be used with pronouns. This rule is followed as the use of both a possessive pronoun and an article can confuse the examiner during the IELTS test.

Basic rules of Articles (A/An/The)
Candidates should have a thorough knowledge of the basic rules of articles for IELTS grammar. Some of the important rules are as follows:

1.    Do not use 'A' and 'An' with an uncountable noun. These articles can be used with singular countable nouns.
2.    Do not use 'some' and 'any' with singular countable nouns. Only use them with plural countable nouns.
3.    The uncountable noun is always singular. Don't use 'a' and 'an' with an uncountable noun.
4.    Articles are also used before adjectives
5.    The articles show whether both the speaker and the listener are familiar with something or not
6.    Possessive adjectives (her, my, their) don't need articles

Some advanced rules for using Articles
1.The article 'The' is used for:

•    Entertainment- We went to the cinemaTransport- I arrived at the station
•    Musical instruments- I play the sitar
•    Common places- She went to the bank
•    Rives, mountain ranges, oceans and seas- The Himalayas
2.No article is used for:
•    Most time expressions: I will visit next week
•    Meals: She had breakfast
•    Work, Home, Bed: Priya went to bed
•    Proper nouns (Name, places): I will talk to Neha
3.Idioms don't follow any rules. Candidates must memorize the full idiom as an expression, such as 'off the record' or 'in a hurry'.

Practical examples of the important article use
If a candidate wants to use articles for IELTS Grammar confidently, they should spend enough time understanding its uses.
Use "travel", not "a travel".
But one can use "a journey/ a trip."
Work is uncountable, but the job is a countable noun. Therefore, applicants can use a/an with the word job, not with the word work.

Use the article ' the ' if a student wants to indicate something specific. As in:
She is working on a table. (on one of the many tables in the room, not a specific table.)

He is working on the computer next to the door. (Not any computer but a specific computer that is next to the door).

Overall, if a candidate speaks about something specific, they must use the.
If you say, I'm going to a bank (any bank)
If you say, I'm going to the bank (that means you are implying a specific bank, maybe the bank where you always go or maybe the bank that you just mentioned a little while ago.)

Students must use 'the' before anything unique. For example: The capital of a country, the earth, the moon, the sun, the sky, the universe, the equator etc.

If a candidate uses an adjective to talk about a group of people, use 'the' before that adjective. For example: The unemployed, the homeless, the sick, the injured, the rich, the poor, the elderly, and the old etc.


IELTS candidates are strongly advised to use articles for IELTS Grammar effectively. Candidates should engage in activities such as reading and listening to English speakers. They can enhance their preparation by watching English TV channels, news programs with subtitles, and listening to podcasts. An effective technique, "active listening," involves pausing English movies to speak out entire sentences where articles are used. Engaging in this activity daily can be beneficial. Additionally, candidates are encouraged to observe how definite and indefinite articles are utilized in newspaper articles, stories, magazines, and novels. By following these strategies, candidates can improve their skills in using articles for IELTS and significantly enhance their chances of achieving a high band score.


All words, including articles (a, an, the), are counted as words. Big or small, every word counts.
Yes, articles are used in noun phrases. The use of an article depends upon the adjective that follows it.
Grammar and vocabulary play a considerable role in the IELTS exam, especially the writing section. The appropriate use of grammar help in increasing the band score of the student.
Yes, Articles can be used before adjectives. However, Possessive adjectives (her, my, their) don't need articles.
The definite article (the) is used before a noun to indicate that the identity of the noun is known to the reader. The indefinite article (a, an) is used before a noun that is general or when its identity is not known.

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