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.
- 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.