an article, as English a, an, that denotes class membership of the noun it modifies without particularizing it.
When To Use Definite vs. Indefinite ArticlesArticles are a unique type of adjectives that indicate which noun (person, place, or thing) you’re talking about. The only definite article in English is the, and it refers to a specific noun. Indefinite articles (a or an) refer to nouns more generally. Indefinite Articles Indefinite articles refer to non-specific nouns. Think “I need a pen” or “I want an orange.” In both cases, we …
When To Use “A,” “An,” And “The”Articles are words that make it clear whether a noun refers to something specific or something general. The English language has only three articles: a, an, and the. This stanza from Emily Dickinson’s poem “A Bird Came Down the Walk” demonstrates the use of all three: A Bird came down the Walk— He did not know I saw— He bit an Angleworm in halves And …
Origin of indefinite article
First recorded in 1720–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for indefinite article
grammar a determiner that expresses nonspecificity of reference, such as a, an, or someCompare definite article
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Culture definitions for indefinite article
The word a or an introducing an unspecified noun or the name of a general category: “a dog,” “an apple,” “an orange.” An is used when the next word begins with a vowel or a silent (unpronounced) h, as in “an egg” or “an hour.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.