I have a simple question. I wondered what article I should use to refer to a noun in general. Which one is the right form?

  • The story of the inventor of a car.
  • The story of the inventor of the car.

And I'm not sure other usages of definite articles in the sentences above were right, either. Thanks in advance


The indefinite article ("a" or "an") refers to one instance of a larger class. The definite article refers to the class as represented by a single instance.

So Preston Tucker invented an automobile, the Tucker Torpedo.

Gottlieb Daimler invented the automobile; that is, he came up with the idea of automobiles in general (by developing the internal-combustion engine).

(Incidentally, he invented the motorcycle first!)

  • 1
    This kind of question has been asked dozens of times on ELL. It's better to point them to previous explanations than to write yet another version of the same information. – Andrew Nov 19 '18 at 16:23
  • @Andrew I see your point. sorry for asking mostly duplicate question. – bombs Nov 21 '18 at 0:25
  • @Malvolio Thank you so much for the answer. I'm still curios about one more thing. "The story of the inventor of the car." <- is it a right form? and can I only use one "the" and omit the rest of the definite articles, like this? "The story of inventor of car" – bombs Nov 21 '18 at 0:25
  • Never omit an article from a singular, countable noun. In fact, when a native speaker wants to imitate the speech of a non-Westerner, the two clichéd errors are dropping articles and forgetting plurals. Your profile, @bombs, suggests you are East Asian: the equivalent would be leaving out the count word in Korean, Japanese, or Chinese. It would just sound weird and wrong. – Malvolio Nov 21 '18 at 15:26

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