Best IELTS Grammar for Writing and Speaking – Articles.

depositphotos_7932028-Quill-pen-and-ink-well-with-paper-scrolldepositphotos_12630060-Two-businessmen-standing-and-talking-with-speech-bubbles-on-white-backgroundIn order to get the best IELTS score you can, it is important to concentrate on all areas of your English Language learning; Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

If you look at the IELTS Writing and Speaking Band Descriptors in the links section in the bottom right hand corner, you will see that one of the criteria the Examiner focuses on is grammar.

In the light of this, I’ve decided to dedicate today’s post to an area of grammar that almost all my students (past and present) find troublesome; articles.

I’m going to divide this post into three sections; the indefinite article, the definite article, no article.

The Indefinite Article.

A and An are called the indefinite article.

  • We use a when the word begins with a consonant sound and an when the word begins with a vowel sound.

e.g.  a cat, an elephant

a university (the word begins with the  consonant sound /j/.

an hour (the word begins with a vowel sound /aʊ/.

The difficulty with words beginning with ‘h’ is that in British English, the ‘h’ is sometimes pronounced as a consonant sound (/h/) and is sometimes silent so is pronounced as a vowel sound.

The following words are pronounced with a silent ‘h’ in British English; hour, honest, honour


  • We use a / an when we are talking about something for the first time.

She is wearing a red dress and a black jacket.
They have a dog.

  • We use a / an to say what kind of person or thing someone or something is (often with an adjective, or to say it belongs to a particular group.

They have an enormous house.

An Aston Martin is a very expensive car.

A shark is a fish, a whale is a mammal.

A bicycle  is a vehicle.

  • We use a / an to talk about someone’s job.

My wife is an actress.
He works as a real estate agent.

The Definite Article.

The is called the definite article.

  • We use the when we are talking about something that has already been mentioned.

She is wearing a red dress and a black jacket.  The dress is very stylish.
They have a dog. The dog is black and white.

  • We use the when we are talking about a specific person or thing, or if there is only one, or if it is clear which one we are talking about.

He chose a book and started to read. — one of many books
He chose the book that his sister had recommended. — a specific book
He took the newspaper and started to read. — there is only one newspaper.
Can you turn on the computer? — it’s clear we are talking about the computer in this room
She has to see the doctor on Friday. — it’s clear we are talking about her usual doctor
She needs to see a doctor. — not any specific doctor
Icarus flew too close to the sun — there is only one sun
The best city I’ve ever visited is Rome. — there can only be one best city.

  • With school, university, prison, hospital, church, bed, work and home we use the when we are talking about a particular one, and no article when we are talking about the idea of school, university…

The church on our street is very modern.  — a particular church
I go to church every Sunday — the idea of church, not a particular building
My husband works at the hospital outside the city centre.
She had to go to hospital.
He hasn’t finished the work I asked him to do yet..
I wasn’t feeling well yesterday so I didn’t go to work.
The home where I grew up is bigger than the one we live in now..
I had to work late and didn’t get home until 8pm.

  • We use the with singular countable nouns to talk about a type of thing.

The crocodile is very dangerous. — this type of animal
The crocodile in the river is very big. — a particular one
She plays the guitar. — not a particular guitar but this type of instrument
She bought the guitar she is playing in Spain. — a particular one

  • We use the + adjective to talk about a group of people (including nationalities).

I always give money to the poor.
The unemployed receive money from the government.
The Brazilians play excellent football. .

  • We use no article with continents, countries, regions, cities, streets, mountains, lakes and parks.

Asia, Germany, Texas, Sydney, Main St., Mount Everest, Lake Geneva, Hyde Park
— we use the if the country contains Kingdom, Republic, State, Union

the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China

  • We use the with plural names of people and places.

The Wilsons, The Netherlands, The United States, The Virgin Islands, The Alps

  • We use the with oceans, seas, rivers and canals.

The Pacific Ocean, The Mediterranean Sea, The Nile, The Suez Canal

  • We use the with north, south, east and west to talk about the location of a place within another place, but no article to compare the location of two places.

Sweden is in the north of Europe.
France is north of Spain.
— we use no article with northern, southern, eastern and western:
Greece is in southern Europe

No Article.

  • We use no article when we are talking about people or things in general.

Avocados are very good for you. — avocados in general
The avocados growing on the tree in my garden are almost ready to eat. — specific avocados.
Italian women are very stylish. – Italian women in general
The Italian women at the party after the fashion show were very nice. — specific Italian women.

  • With school, university, prison, hospital, church, bed, work and home we use the when we are talking about a particular one, and no article when we are talking about the idea of school, university…

The church on our street is very modern.  — a particular church
I go to church every Sunday — the idea of church, not a particular building
My husband works at the hospital outside the city centre.
She had to go to hospital.
He hasn’t finished the work I asked him to do yet..
I wasn’t feeling well yesterday so I didn’t go to work.
The home where I grew up is bigger than the one we live in now..
I had to work late and didn’t get home until 8pm.

  • We use no article with continents, countries, regions, cities, streets, mountains, lakes and parks.

Asia, Germany, Texas, Sydney, Main St., Mount Everest, Lake Geneva, Hyde Park
— we use the if the country contains Kingdom, Republic, State, Union

the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China

Reminding yourself of these rules and implementing them will help improve your grammar for the IELTS Writing Test and the IELTS Speaking Test.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

5 thoughts on “Best IELTS Grammar for Writing and Speaking – Articles.

  1. Dear Alnna 🙂
    I took 2 ILETS courses and I’ve been studying English for amlost 6 monthes ,, However, what I read here in your website was the best !!! you could explain all what we really need in a few number of words ..

    You R the best .. B proud of yourself and yr great website 🙂

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