Zero Article in English
The zero article the is used in the following cases:
|With a singular countable noun when we address somebody:||What is the matter, Doctor?
Don't worry, Mother. I will be O.K.
|With plural countable nouns when they represent all the elements which belong to the group:||Elephants are big animals.
Oranges have vitamins in.
|When a plural countable countable noun denotes the number of indefinite elements:||There are people in the street.
Students often stay at colleges.
|When a plural countable noun is preceded by be or become:||The Browns are engineers.
Mrs. Smith's daughters became actresses.
|With abstract nouns such as: beauty, truth, etc.||Beauty is truth.|
|With names of materials such as: wood, glass, etc.||Chairs are made of wood.
This vase is made of glass
|Some of the above-mentioned nouns can be used as countable nouns and then they are preceded by the indefinite article||a wood (i.e. "a small forest")
a glass (i.e. "a mirror" or "a drinking vessel")
There is a wood not far from my cottage.
I got a glass as a birthday present.
|With such uncountable nouns as money, milk, etc.:||Lily needs money.
One should drink milk.
|The above-mentioned nouns can be preceded by such expressions as: some, a lot of, etc.||Lily needs some money.
One should drink a lot of milk.
|In exclamatory sentences when uncountable or plural countable nouns are used:||What dirt!
What a waste!
What a pity!
|With few and little when we express small number or small amount||I have few friends. (i.e. ‘almost no friends’)
I have little sugar. (i.e. ‘almost no sugar’)
|When a singular countable noun is used after be and become and denotes a unique job/profession||John Kennedy was President.
Karol Wojtyla became Pope.
|When a noun is used after turn||He turned musician and made a great career.
He turned spy and was imprisoned.
|When a noun refers to an institution which is only one of its kind||When will parliament begin its session?
When does school end?
|With two or more nouns when they refer to a couple of people or a couple of inanimate things||Father and mother went to the cinema.
She was studying day and night before her final exams.
|When a noun is used in notes, signs, headlines, telegraphs etc.||Private road.
Design flaw feared.
|With some nouns which are only one of their kind||Heaven
|With the names of seasons, months, days of the week||summer
|With nouns preceded by a pronoun or an adjective||my shirt
my white shirt
|With names of meals, except when they are preceded by an adjective:||We have breakfast at eight.
He gave us a good breakfast.
|The indefinite article is used when we talk about a special meal prepared to celebrate something or welcome somebody:||I was invited to dinner. (in the ordinary way)
I was invited to a dinner given to welcome the new ambassador.
|With the following nouns when the places named are used for their primary purpose||bed
We learn at school.
When he became seriously ill, he was taken to hospital.
My bus stops opposite the school.
Yesterday, I was allowed to go to the hospital to see my cousin.
|With a noun sea when we talk about sailors or passengers||We go to sea as sailors.
to be at sea = to be on a voyage as passengers or crew
|But when we talk about sea as a seaside then we use the||He was at the sea (at the seaside)
When he was young he lived by/near the sea.
|When the speaker refers to his/her own town||We go to town sometimes to buy clothes.
We were in town last Monday.
|With surnames||Professor Smith
|With the names of some magazines/newspapers||Time
|With the names of some organizations||British Rail
|With the names of some buildings, bridges and streets||Wetback Mansion
|With man when we denote 'mankind'||Man constantly changes his natural environment.|
|countries, counties, states||Poland
|towns, cities and villages||New York
|single islands unless their name include a preposition||Malta
The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Man
|single mountains unless their name include a preposition||Mount Everest
The Mountain of the Seven Sights
|expressions such as:||day by day
from dawn to dusk
hand in hand
from beginning to end
face to face
from west to east
|With abstract nouns which are used with general meaning||Some people like risk.|
|With the noun home when we refer to the speaker's or listener's house||It's late I have to go home.
If you don't feel well, you should stay at home.
|With last and next when we refer to the nearest days, weeks, months, etc.||I met him last week.
(i.e. "the week before the present one")
I hope to see you next week.
(i.e. "the week after the present one")
|With gerund when an activity / state expressed by the gerund is not definite||Mrs. Thompson likes cooking.|
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