Definition of a in English:

a

(also an)

determiner

  • 1Used when referring to someone or something for the first time in a text or conversation.

    ‘a man came out of the room’
    Compare with the
    ‘it has been an honor to have you’
    ‘we need people with a knowledge of languages’
    • ‘My wife got me an unexpected Christmas gift this year.’
    • ‘He has also written an opera and translated Dante's Inferno in order to produce an illustrated book of it.’
    • ‘I received an email from Jo today.’
    • ‘Jack crouched down and hid behind a tree trunk.’
    • ‘An internal report written by a manager at the nuclear waste reprocessing plant was leaked this week.’
    • ‘"That campaign definitely had an effect," she says.’
    • ‘Before making a decision, do an assessment of how you want to use your phone.’
    • ‘We had to write a story about a natural disaster for creative writing.’
    • ‘Children need a place for their computer equipment, and parents need closet space for their clothing.’
    • ‘Bob's conducting a three-year internet romance with a girl he's never met.’
    1. 1.1 Used with units of measurement to mean one such unit.
      ‘a hundred’
      ‘a quarter of an hour’
      • ‘There is barely an ounce of fat on his body, and he continues to make his team-mates look chubby.’
      • ‘About a mile further down the road, another dog ran out in front of the taxi.’
      • ‘I sent off an e-mail, just an hour ago, and he's already got me back online.’
      • ‘The attack came amid a major upsurge in violence across the country that has left a thousand dead.’
      • ‘I stopped to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work.’
      • ‘I look at these miserable people, and wouldn't trade my life with theirs for a million dollars.’
    2. 1.2[with negative] One single; any.
      ‘I simply haven't a thing to wear’
      • ‘Incensed at the fiasco, I went back to the website to try and find a telephone number to call - not a thing!’
      • ‘The film looks fantastic: there is not a spot, or a scratch, or a visual defect to be seen.’
      • ‘I had to own up to the fact that I'd never read a word by Crofts.’
      • ‘I think there's not a person born that doesn't have a gift to offer in some way.’
      • ‘Most refugees say they never saw a drop of food aid - despite almost one million tonnes flooding into the country every year.’
    3. 1.3 Used when mentioning the name of someone not known to the speaker.
      ‘a Mr. Smith telephoned’
      • ‘Does anyone know a Mr Daeller?’
      • ‘He was sent two poems from a Miss Ethel Malley, who wrote saying they were found among her brother's possessions after his death.’
      • ‘On September 29 a letter arrived at our address for a Ms L Doherty.’
      • ‘She was born in about 1670, the daughter of a Mr Freeman of Holbeach in Lincolnshire.’
      • ‘The latest letter was from a Mrs Singh, who complained about two radio stations.’
    4. 1.4 Someone like (the name specified)
      ‘you're no better than a Hitler’
      • ‘Called a Judas by his countrymen, he received an elbow from another player, and left the pitch injured.’
      • ‘Moore says that the organization has passed its Chamberlain period, and is now in need of a Churchill.’
      • ‘Regarding academic medicine, it has become increasingly difficult for a Freud or a Mendel to gain recognition without university affiliation or corporate sponsorship.’
      • ‘What he lacks is the charisma of an Olivier, whose epochal Coriolanus is dazzlingly evoked in two pages of Kenneth Tynan's Curtains.’
      • ‘You need the methods of a Roosevelt.’
  • 2Used to indicate membership of a class of people or things.

    ‘he is a lawyer’
    ‘this car is a BMW’
    • ‘My mom's a pharmacist and my dad's a realtor.’
    • ‘Notice that every car seen in the show is a Chevrolet, out of consideration for their sponsor.’
    • ‘Lilly is a Siamese cat who survived a two-week cross-country move while stuck in a drawer.’
    • ‘She's a banker, married to a stockbroker, and they have a daughter about the same age as Amy.’
    • ‘In 1984 he was granted his fervent wish to acquire a Picasso.’
  • 3Used when expressing rates or ratios; in, to, or for each; per.

    ‘typing 60 words a minute’
    ‘cost as much as eight dollars a dozen’
    • ‘I type 15 words a minute with a lot of mistakes.’
    • ‘The truckers are angry at the rise in diesel prices, which currently average 81.3p a litre.’
    • ‘The site takes in 2,000 tons of trash on a typical day, charging an average $30 a ton.’
    • ‘The price of gold rose last week to $309 an ounce - and at one point was $312, its highest for two years.’
    • ‘You can't drive over five miles an hour down any street in New York.’

Usage

1 The article a can be pronounced either /ā/, when stressed (“He gave you a flower?”—that is, only one flower), or /ə/, when unstressed (“He gave you a flower?”—that is, the emphasis is on flower, not on the number of flowers). The form an is used before words beginning with a vowel sound. 2 On the question of using a or an before words beginning with h, see also an

Origin

Middle English: weak form of ān one.

Pronunciation:

a

/ā/