A/An = one of many possibilities.
1) use it the first time you mention something
a [I need a chair] (it doesn't matter which chair, any will do)
b [Yesterday, I bought a chair] (I haven't told you enough about this chair for you to imagine it yet, so it still is 'a' chair)
2) use it to talk about 1 thing *in general* in a formal settings / It's the same as using a plural form
--- Since this is a generalization, it really means 'most' / 'almost all'
c [A chair is something that people usually sit on] <--formal
d [Chairs are things that people usually sit on] <-- less formal
The - used to talk about a specific object
1) use it the *second* time you talk about something, your listener/reader already knows what you're talking about
[umm... the chair is broken] (talking about the chair in example a]
[The chair is so comfortable!] (talking about the purchase yesterday - describing the chair that was bought)
2) use it to talk about a unique object or something everyone knows
[The moon is full tonight] - When we say 'The moon' it always means Earth's moon.
[The president said....] - it is understood from your conversation which president you're talking about (usually your own country)
3) to describe ALL things in a general category
[The chair has many forms and has been used all over the world] (this means *all* chairs)
There are also special rules for names and geography.