I'm reading an ebook and am getting confused whether to use the article an or the.

The below lines are shown in my ebook:

While fragments enable you to compartmentalize your UI into various configurable parts, the real power of fragments is realized when you add them dynamically to activities during runtime. In the previous section, you saw how you can add fragments to an activity by modifying the XML file during design time. In reality, it is much more useful if you create fragments and add them to activities during runtime.This enables you to create a customizable user interface for your application.

For example: if the application is running on a smartphone, you might fill an activity with a single fragment; if the application is running on a tablet, you might then fill the activity with two or more fragments, as the tablet has much more screen real estate compared to a smartphone.

I need to know which one is appropriate, either an or the. Can anybody explain this to me?

  • 1
    The second one is "the" simply because the two sentences are connected and in the second sentence they are talking about the activity from the first.
    – fluffy
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 9:50
  • what is filling an activity?
    – Maulik V
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 11:25
  • Can you add a sentence or two that comes before what you've quoted? More context might rule out one of the choices. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 11:34
  • 1
    post edited clearly please check it now @EsotericScreenName
    – Stephen
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 11:49
  • @MaulikV post edited
    – Stephen
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 11:51

4 Answers 4


This example follows the standard rule that we use the indefinite article for objects we are introducing, and the definite for ones we have already introduced.

The two sentences you quoted are related, they are talking about the same activity. That is why when you mention it for the first time you say "an activity" and when you talk about it for a second time it is something familiar, so you say 'the activity".


You use the indefinite article "an" or "a" when talking in general, when your statement apply to any of the possible subjects.

You use the definite article "the" when talking about a particular subject.

Your example first uses "an" to talk about any of the activities. It then uses "an" to select any one of the activities as an example, but it's not important which. It then uses "the" to talk about the particular activity it just selected.


As the sentence starts speaking about the activity for the first time, 'an' is used. As the activity is made familiar to us, in the second sentence, 'the' is used.


Use "A" if the noun you are describing starts with a consonant. Example : A book in the closet.

Use "An" if the noun you are describing start with a vowel. (a,e,i,o,u). Example : "An elephant in the zoo".

"A"/"An" versus "The": Use "A/An" if you are referring to - GENERAL IDEA. Ex: A university in the Philippines. (so many universities)

Use "The" if you are referring to - SPECIFIC IDEA. Ex: The University of the Philippines. (only one University of the Philippines)

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