Friday, 6 November 2015

The indefinite article: a thing to remember

The indefinite article a/an (un, una) has some characteristics which may catch Spanish speakers out.

1. When the article is followed by a vowel or silent consonant, the form an must be used:

an apple
an interesting book
an honest man

2. Sometimes, the article may accompany nouns that seem to begin with a vowel . The sound, however, is not like that of a vowel, but the semi-vowel /j/. In this case, only the form a can be used:

a university / ə ˌjuːnɪˈvɜːsəti/
a union /ə ˈjuːnjən/

3. In Spanish phrases such as “Tengo casa/perro/gato/coche/etc.” and “Soy profesor/camarero/policía/etc.”, the indefinite article is not used. In English, the article must always be present.

I have a house = Tengo casa
He has a car = Tiene coche
I haven´t got a cat = No tengo gato

I´m a teacher = Soy profesor
She´s a waitress = Es camarera
My uncle is a police officer = Mi tío es policía


  1. Hola, Francisco Javier! Mi nombre es Alicia y quiero felicitarte por tu blog dedicado al idioma inglés y agradecerte ya que es de gran ayuda para aprender esta lengua. Te envío un saludo desde Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  2. Gracias, Alicia. Ahora no estoy escribiendo, pero espero hacerlo pronto.

    Francisco Javier.