Let us analyze these two sentences:

“I am a student.”

“I am the student.”

Are you ‘a’ student or ‘the’ student?

Both the above are correct sentences but what is the difference? 

Other similar examples:

1. I am an Indian.

2. I am the Indian who represented the delegation.

BTW, this is just a grammar question and not a philosophical one (or may be it is :)). I will be very happy if you are in future, not just ‘a’ student but ‘the’ student who achieves remarkable things 🙂

‘A / An’ are used in the general or indefinite sense. “I am an Indian” simply states the fact and implies that I’m one of the Indians.  In contrast, ‘The’ specifies or particularizes. A sentence like “I am the Indian” is usually put in some context and would mean that I am that particular Indian who did something or who is the subject of some issue/conversation. “I am the Indian who represented the delegation” means “I am the particular Indian who represented the delegation”. “I am an Indian who represented the delegation” implies that “I am one of the several Indians who represented the delegation”. Similarly, a sentence such as “She is the student” would usually be put in some context. Ex: “Our VIT students have exceptional talents.  One of our students won the best-speaker award.  She is the student”. Here, “She is the student” implies that “She is that student who won the award”. 

Because of the specifying or the particularizing nature of ‘The’, it is very commonly used to mark a noun as indicating the best-known (for good or bad), most-important or special.  So, if someone says something like “He is the singer” without context, the speaker is generally implying that he is the best-known singer or the best singer. So now, please tell me you are ‘the’ student ☺

I’m sure all of you are special in some way or other.  You try to identify and bring out that special talent in you and you surely will be ‘the student’ in some special way ☺


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