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        October 14, 2014

SciTechEdit International  
Writing Tip

Definite (the) vs. indefinite (a, an) articles

The English language has three articles: a definite article, 'the', and two indefinite articles, 'a' and 'an'. As a definite article, 'the' is used when referring to something specific, as in "The frontal lobe of the brain mediates higher functions." There is not more than one frontal lobe or more than one brain, therefore the article used is a definite article. The indefinite articles, 'a' and 'an', are used when the noun is not specific: "A neuron comprises a soma, an axon, and dendrites." Nouns are often first introduced into an article or conversation using an indefinite article, 'a' or 'an', and then subsequently referred to using the definite article 'the'. "The assay was performed using an ELISA. The ELISA data indicated that interleukin-1a levels had increased."


Click below to read more about the use of articles in English: 

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