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a/an
We use a/an with singular countable nouns:
• when we talk about one thing or person but we don’t say exactly which one:
Lucy’s reading a book.
There’s a supermarket near my house.
• to talk about someone’s job:
My mother is a teacher.
• to describe people or things:
Pip is a nice girl. That’s a good idea.
• in expressions with numbers:
I sleep eight hours a night.
Apples cost €3 a kilo.
Remember: We don’t use a/an with uncountable nouns (water, milk) or plural nouns (apples, books).
the
We can use the with singular, plural and uncountable nouns. We use the:
• when it is clear which person or thing we mean:
The boy over there is my brother. Where’s the sugar?
• when there is only one:
The Earth is round. Peter is in the garden.
• with the names of oceans (the Pacific Ocean), seas (the Red Sea), rivers (the Nile), mountain ranges (the Andes) and deserts (the Sahara Desert).
• with the names of some countries: the USA (United States of America), the UK (United Kingdom), the Netherlands
• with musical instruments:
He plays the piano.
• in some time expressions:
in the morning/afternoon/evening.
at the weekend.
But we say:
in January, at night, on Mondays
Zero article
We don’t use a or the:
• with names of people (Peter, Mr Hardy), continents (Africa), most countries (Spain), cities (Madrid), streets (West Street), lakes (Lake Michigan) and mountains (Mount Everest).
• with sports (basketball), games (chess), school subjects (Maths), meals (dinner) and languages (English).
• in these expressions:
Beth is at home/at school/in bed.
I go to school every day. I go by bus.
 

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