“The” is used with specific nouns that refer to
something particular. “A” is used with nouns
that refer to something general. For example:
The boy in the red T-shirt is my nephew. (Here, “boy” refers to a particular boy, hence the use of ‘the’.)
A girl was standing in the hall. (Here, “girl” refers to a girl in general, hence the use of ‘a’.)
Use of ‘A’ or ‘An’
In choosing the indefinite articles ‘a’ or ‘an’, consider the sound and not the spelling of the word that follows. For example:
Both hat and hour begin with an H, but the sounds are different.
Both utility and umbrella begin with a U, but the sounds are different.
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