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# Review of English determiners: “A” and “An”

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Announcement! As of August 1, 2019, the TOEFL Reading, Listening and Speaking sections will be shortened. The TOEFL will also make changes to its prep materials and scoring system. Because of this, some of the info in our blog posts may not yet reflect the new exam format. We cover all the changes here.
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Today we’ll review the use of “a” and “an” with a learning activity. These activities are a follow-up to a previous post about determiners in English. The exercise is directly related to the numbered rules from the Magoosh TOEFL Blog grammar lesson “Using ‘A’ and ‘An’.” So open the link to that post right now. You’ll need to check my earlier post for the rules I’ll reference in the activity below.

## Activity: The rules for using “a” and “an” in English

Instructions: Each sentence below contains either “a,” “an,” or no determiner at all. After each sentence, say which determiner is used, and then say why the determiner is used. Consult my original post on a/an to give your reasons. The first three have been done for you.

1. She ate spaghetti for dinner.
Determiner used: none
Reason: “Spaghetti” is an uncountable noun, and uncountable nouns do not have “a” or “an.”
Editor’s note: This comes from Rule 1 in the original post, “Using ‘A’ and ‘An’ in English.”
2. Their employees filed an harassment complaint.
Determiner used: an
Reason: Although “harassment” starts with a consonant, it starts with an unstressed syllable beginning with “h.” Because of this, it is possible to use “a” or “an” before the word. This writer has chosen to use “an.”
Editor’s note: This answer comes from Rule 2, Exception 3 of the original post
3. I rode my bike for a kilometer.
Determiner used: a
Reason: “A” can be a substitute for the word “one” when talking about a single item that is countable.
Editor’s note: This answer comes from Rule 2 of the original post that I have linked a few times above.
4. Some people feel English is a universal global language.
Determiner used:
Reason:
5. That mysterious fighter jet has a U.S. flag image on it.
Determiner used:
Reason:
6. My baby elephant weighs about a thousand kilograms.
Determiner used:
Reason:
7. Spiders have eight legs and six eyes and look very creepy.
Determiner used:
Reason:
8. It’s hard to think on an empty stomach.
Determiner used:
Reason:
9. He drew an x and an o.
Determiner used:
Reason:
10. I hope to read a new novel every month.
Determiner used:
Reason: