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There are three words known as articles in the English language - ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’. An article is used when you want to point out a noun in a sentence. For instance, take a normal sentence like this:

Elephants walked through the trees.

You can use the article ‘the’ to highlight the noun ‘elephants’ to the reader, like this:

The elephants walked through the trees.

‘The’ is called the definite article, because you usually use it to point out a specific noun. Take the previous sentence - it’s not just any bunch of elephants, it’s the elephants.

‘A’ and ‘an’ are known as indefinite articles, because they aren’t quite as specific as ‘the’ when you use them with a noun. The difference between ‘a’ and ‘an’ is that you use ‘an’ when it’s just before a noun starting with a vowel, and ‘a’ in any other situation. For instance, if we go back to the elephant example:

An elephant walked through the trees.

The use of ‘an’ in this sentence isn’t as specific as if we’d used ‘the’. It’s telling us is that some elephant walked through the trees, but it could be any elephant.

‘A’ and ‘an’ can only be used with singular nouns, but ‘the’ can be used with both singular and plural nouns.