What Does Zero Article Mean in English?
Why Do We Use Zero Articles?
Sometimes using an article for nouns or noun phrases is not necessary. In this case, we do not use any articles before them and we call it 'zero articles. ' check out the examples:
I want to call
What Nouns or Noun Phrases Do Not Need Articles?
Usually to make a general statement (generalization) or categorical statement we use zero articles. But this is not always the case. Let us discuss it in more detail:
Mass nouns (also called non-count or uncountable nouns) do not usually need an article before them. In other words, the indefinite articles 'a, an' are never used with uncountable nouns, however, you can sometimes use the article 'the' before uncountable nouns, when you want to be specific. Here are the most important groups of mass nouns that are not preceded by articles:
You can not use the articles 'a, an' before different languages, but if there is the term language after it you can use the article 'the.' Check out the examples:
Such as → Russian, English, German, Italian, etc.
/ / Russian.')
/ / English is a nice language.')
I like to learn
You can not use the articles 'a, an' before meals. But if there is an adjective, phrase, or even a clause that describes a meal (whether before or after a meal), you can use the article 'the.' Check out the examples:
Such as → dinner, breakfast, lunch, etc.
/ / lunch together.')
/ / breakfast is served at the hotel.')
In this example, the 'that-clause' is describing the term 'dinner'; as a result, you can use the article 'the' before 'dinner.'
- academic subjects
Such as → physics, math, history, etc.
, , history is my favorite subject at school.')
, , physics seems hard to me.')
- games and sport
Such as → football, basketball, rugby, tennis, etc.
, , football very well.')
Hanna used to play
, , tennis.')
Proper nouns are definite on their own, so there is no need to use an article to define them. Here are the most common proper nouns that are used without articles:
Such as → Hanna, Fluffy, Harry, Oxford street, etc.
, , Sam is standing over there.')
My mother calls my cat
, , fluffy.')
Such as → Pisa, Taj Mahal, Artemis temple, etc.
, , Taj mahal last summer.')
, , Artemis is my favorite place to go when I am stressed.')
- days, months
Such as → Monday, November, January, etc.
We have English class on
, , Sunday.')
I was born in
, , June.')
'Newspaper headlines' do not need an article to become definite. Do not use articles in newspaper headlines. For example:
Headless Body in Topless Bar
Men Walk on Moon
Notice and User Guides
User guides (also known as user manuals) help you figure out how to use a particular device or service. They may include some warnings as well, which are called notices.
Whenever you are dealing with notices or user guides, there is no need to use articles.
, , battery.')
Put container in 30°C. (Not 'Put
, , container in 30°C.')
Means of Transport
When you want to talk about the type of transportation you use, there is no need to use articles after the preposition 'by.' Check out the examples for more clarification:
We went to the festival by
, , car.')
Hanna walked on
, , foot to get to the river.')
*Let us take
In this example, we did not use the preposition 'by,' So we did use an article.
Some abstract nouns can be used preceded by articles and some cannot. Compare examples below:
In this example, we cannot say 'the happiness.'
Common Time and Place Expressions
Some time and place expressions are fixed and we cannot change them by using articles between them. The following examples are always used with zero articles:
The man was
I cannot talk on the phone
When we are referring to a place in an institutional sense we do __not_ use articles. However, American English is different from British English, and sometimes in the American style, we are allowed to use articles. Check these examples out:
I was in
The sentence is written in American English style.
I was in hospital.
The sentence is written in British English style.
They studied at
Mat was at
Sometimes using an article is not necessary. So we do not use any articles which in this case, we are using zero articles. Here are the occasions which require zero articles.
- mass nouns
- proper nouns
- newspaper headlines
- notice and user guides
- means of transport
- abstract nouns
- common time and place expressions