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How do I use indefinite articles with sudden unexpected events or injuries?

Indefinite Articles for Sudden and Unexpected Events or Injuries

Indefinite articles — ‘a’ or ‘an’ — are used before an unexpected event or injury.

Using indefinite articles in your writing can be confusing for non-native English speakers. Place them before an unexpected event or injury. You can also use indefinite articles before symptoms.

When describing an unexpected event or injury which caused a patient’s health condition, in a discharge letter for example, you may include the reason for admission in your introduction. If the patient was admitted due to an accident or sudden unexpected event, you may use the following language to describe this:

Mr X was admitted to hospital with a head injury, following a fall at home in the night.

Notice how an indefinite article (a/an) is placed before the noun in the example above. Here are some more examples:

  • Mr X was brought to hospital by ambulance, after being involved in a car accident.
  • He was diagnosed with a heart attack and was immediately treated with aspirin.
  • Mr X had a stroke while at home last night.

Here are further examples of common phrases that have the indefinite article before the event or injury:

  • He sustained a fracture of the tibia.
  • He suffered an electric shock.
  • She had a hypoglycaemic attack.
  • He had a seizure, due to the high fever.

Do you want to know more about articles? Find out how articles may not apply to medical conditions or medication names.