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When do we use "The" and when do we use "A" ?
Here are the rules for when to use "A, An or The":
a = indefinite article (not a specific object, one of a number of the same objects) with consonants
She has a dog.
I work in a factory.
an = indefinite article (not a specific object, one of a number of the same objects) with vowels (a,e,i,o,u)
Can I have an apple?
She is an English teacher.
the = definite article (a specific object that both the person speaking and the listener know)
The car over there is fast.
The teacher is very good, isn't he?
The first time you speak of something use "a or an", the next time you repeat that object use "the".
I live in a house. The house is quite old and has four bedrooms.
I ate in a Chinese restaurant. The restaurant was very good.
DO NOT use an article with countries, states, counties or provinces, lakes and mountains except when the country is a collection of states such as "The United States".
He lives in Washington near Mount Rainier.
They live in northern British Columbia.
Use an article with bodies of water, oceans and seas -
My country borders on the Pacific Ocean
DO NOT use an article when you are speaking about things in general
I like Russian tea.
She likes reading books.
DO NOT use an article when you are speaking about Meals, places, and transport
He has breakfast at home.
I go to university.
He comes to work by taxi.
That is quite good. Those are very good guidelines.
An is used before words that start with a vowel sound:
An egg \ a European
An umbrella \ a university