A/An, The, Some, Any & No

We use a/an with singular countable nouns:

  1. There is a basket.
  2. I have an apple. (Use an (a) before vowels)
  3. She is a good person. It is an interesting book. (a/an + adjective + singular countable noun)
  4. I am a teacher. He is an engineer. (a/an + job (singular countable noun))
  5. I have a hundred phone numbers. There are a million people. (a hundred = one hundred; a million = one million)
  6. I brush my teeth twice a day. I have English classes once a week. (twice a day = twice each day; once a week = once each week)

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 12.15.20

A/an is the indefinite article. The is the definite article. We use a/an for new information, and we use the when information is not new, and our listener or reader understands which thing we mean:

  1. I have a computer. The computer is grey.
  2. There is an apple. The apple is green.
  3. There are students in the classroom (we understand which classroom). The students are talking. (a students; we can use the with plural nouns, but we cannot use a/an with plural nouns)
  4. The sun is shining. The moon is full. (there is only one sun/moon)

Compare:

  • I like cats (I like all cats). I like the cats (I like these particular cats).
  • Juice is good for health (juice is generally/always good for health). The juice is tasty (this juice is tasty).

When you are ready, learn more rules about articles: “Articles: Basic Rules” and “Articles: Intermediate – Advanced.”

We use some and any with plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns. We use some in affirmative statements:

  1. I have some bananas. (bananas – plural countable noun)
  2. I have some water. (water – uncountable noun)

We use any in negatives and questions:

  1. I don’t have any bananas.
  2. Do you have any water?

When you ask for something, use some:

  1. Can I have some tea?
  2. I’d like some tea, please.

When you offer something to someone, use some:

  1. Would you like some coffee?
  2. Do you want some tea with your lunch?

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 12.40.24.png

We can use some and any without a noun when it is clear what we are talking about:

  1. Sorry, I don’t have any. (see the picture above)
  2. I’m making some tea. Would you like some?
  3. How much water is there? – There isn’t any.

There are two ways to make a sentence negative – with not and with no:

  1. There are not (aren’t) any oranges. = There are no oranges.
  2. There is not (isn’t) any time. = There is no time.
  3. I do not (don’t) have any time. = I have no time.
  4. I am not (I’m not) doing any work. = I’m going no work.

Not is for a verb, and no is for a noun: there aren’t any oranges; there are no oranges.

We cannot use no and any together: there is no any time. There is no time or There isn’t any time. The same is true for a/an, the and some. We call such words determiners. Don’t use 2 determiners before 1 noun, choose the determiner you need: a/an, the, some, any or no.

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