For ease of comprehension and translation, include a, an, and the in your writing.
A and an are indefinite articles and are used before a singular noun. They refer to any member of a group.
The is a definite article. It is used before singular and plural nouns and refers to one or more particular members of a group.
Whether to use "a" or "an" depends on the pronunciation of the word that follows it. Use "a" before any consonant sound; use "an" before any vowel sound.
- An hour
- An HTML file
- A hand
- A hotel
- An umbrella
- A union
To complicate matters further, some abbreviations can be both acronyms and initialisms, requiring a in one instance and an in the other. For example, FAQ, which some pronounce "fak" and others spell out, requires an when spelled out and a when pronounced as a word. The following is a list of these kinds of abbreviations with our recommendations for which article to use:
- An SQL (database)
- An FAQ
Two pages with more detailed information about articles: