Zero Articles : English Glossary

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Zero Articles : English Glossary

Several kinds of nouns never use articles. We do not use articles with the names of languages.

  • He was learning Chinese.

  • But when the word Chinese refers to the people, the definite article might come into play.

  • The Chinese are hoping to get the next Olympics.

  • She plays badminton and basketball.

  • She's taking economics and math.

  • Her major is Religious Studies.

  • When they are generic, non-count nouns and sometimes plural count-nouns are used without articles.

  • We like wine with our dinner.

  • We adore Baroque music.

  • We use roses for many purposes.

  • But if an "of phrase" comes after the noun, we use an article:

  • We adore the music of the Baroque.

  • Also, when a generic noun is used without an article and then referred to in a subsequent reference, it will have become specific and will require a definite article:

  • The Data Center installed computers in the Learning Center this summer. The computers, unfortunately, don't work.

  • Common count nouns are used without articles in certain special situations:

    idiomatic expressions
    using be and go
    We'll go by train. (as opposed to "We'll take the train.)
    He must be in school.
    with seasonsIn spring, we like to clean the house.
    with institutionsHe's in church/college/jail/class.
    with mealsBreakfast was delicious.
    He's preparing dinner by himself.
    with diseasesHe's dying of pneumonia.
    Appendicitis nearly killed him.
    She has cancer
    (You will sometimes hear "the measles," "the mumps," but these, too, can go without articles.)
    with time of dayWe traveled mostly by night.
    We'll be there around midnight.

    Notice that there is a difference between a "stressed" some or any and an "unstressed" some or any. Consider the words in ALL CAPS as shouted words and you will hear the difference between these two:

  • That is SOME car you've got there!

  • I don't want to hear ANY excuse!

  • As opposed to. . .

  • We have some cars left in the lot.

  • Isn't there any furniture in the living room?

  • In terms of the words they usually modify, the unstressed some and any do not modify singular count nouns.

    Related Links :

  • Quantifiers

  • Predeterminers

  • Articles

  • Zero Articles

  • Principles of Choosing Article and Predeterminer

  • English Glossary Index

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