Articles (a, an, the)

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.

Examples

  • 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.

External resources

Two pages with more detailed information about articles:

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Google Developer Documentation Style Guide
Google Developer Documentation Style Guide