Like nouns, articles come in two flavors: definite articles and indefinite articles. And just like the two types of nouns, the type of article you use depends on how specific you need to be about the thing you’re discussing.
A definite article describes one specific noun, like the and this. Example: Did you buy the car?
Now swap in an indefinite article: Did you buy a car?
See how the implication is gone and you’re asking a much more general question?
Figuring out parts of speech
Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell which part of speech a word is. Here are a few easy “hacks” to quickly figure out what part of speech you’re dealing with:
If it’s an adjective plus the ending “-ly,” it’s an adverb. Examples: commonly, quickly.If you can swap it out for a noun and the sentence still makes sense, it’s a pronoun. Example: We played basketball. / Steve and I played basketball. If it’s something you do, and you can modify the sentence to include the word do, it’s a verb. Examples: I have an umbrella. / I do have an umbrella. If you can remove the word and the sentence still makes sense, but you lose a detail, the word is most likely an adjective. Example: She drives a red van. / She drives a van. If you can remove the word and the sentence doesn’t make sense, it’s likely a preposition. Example: I left my notebook on the desk. / I left my notebook the desk.
And if you’re ever really stumped, just look the word up. Dictionaries typically list the part of speech a word fits in its entry, and if it fits more than one part of speech, both are listed with examples.
That brings us to another common issue that can confuse writers and language learners: