11.1 What's an indefinite article?

So far we had discussed definite articles, not let's have a look at these phrases.

The man crosses the street.
A man crosses the street.

The difference between the two sentences is quite clear: The first sentence describes a certain man that crosses the street. The second sentence describes a man, that is not further determined who crosses the street. He can be any of the millions of men that are crossing streets all over the world.

The English language knows one indefinite article in singular independent of gender (= a) of the subject and one indefinite article for plural forms (= some). In comparison there is only one definite article independent of gender and number (= the)
Note that there is a difference when the word after the indefinite article starts with a vowel for the singular form, which is actually not a different article just a help to make pronunciation easier (a => an).

  English articles in singular

A man crosses the street. <=> The man crosses the street.
A woman crosses the street. <=> The woman crosses the street.
He eats an apple. <=> He eats the apple.
He eats a pear. <=> He eats the pear.

  English articles in plural

Some men cross the street. <=> The men cross the street.
Some women cross the street. <=> The women cross the street.
He eats some apples. <=> He eats the apples.
He eats some pears. <=> He eats the pears.

contact privacy statement imprint