The Grammar GuideAbbreviationsWhy should you avoid using two consecutive articles?

Why should you avoid using two consecutive articles?

Why should you avoid using two consecutive articles?

English has three articles: the, a, and an. The refers to a specific, definite noun. A refers to one non-specific noun. An is used just like a but comes before a noun that begins with a vowel sound.

Because articles are used to denote whether or not a noun is definite, we only use one article before a noun.

  • Correct: I have to do the assignment tomorrow.
  • Correct: I have to do an assignment tomorrow.
  • Incorrect: I have to do an the assignment tomorrow.

    Articles are a type of determiner. Determiners come before nouns to explain definiteness, possession, or amount. We use articles to denote the definiteness of a noun.

Examples

  • Give it to the dog. (We are talking about a specific dog.)
  • Give it to a dog. (It doesn’t matter which dog.)
  • I read the book last night. (Use this when it’s clear which book was being discussed.)
  • I read a book last night. (The book that I read is not important.)
  • Hand me the artichoke. (There is only one artichoke that I’m talking about.)
  • Hand me an artichoke. (I don’t care which artichoke you hand me.)

Because the has a different meaning from a/an, you must use only one or the other. Different articles will make sense in different situations. The can also be used to talk about more than one noun. A/an is used to refer to a singular noun only. If you are talking about more than one non-specific, indefinite noun, you can use other types of determiners.

Never use more than one article before a noun because they serve different purposes.

  • Correct: I need the charger.
  • Correct: I need a charger.
  • Incorrect: I need the a charger.