What is Zero Article in English?
Zero article is a term used in English grammar to refer to the absence of an article (either definite or indefinite) before a noun. In other words, it is the absence of any article at all.
Why Do We Use Zero Articles?
Sometimes it is not necessary to use an article before a noun or noun phrase. In these cases, we do not use any articles and call it 'zero articles. ' Check out the examples:
I want to call
Zero Article: Uses
Usually, we use zero articles to make a general statement (generalization) or a categorical statement. But this is not always the case. Let us discuss it in more details:
Mass nouns, also known as non-count or uncountable nouns, typically do not require an indefinite article ('a' or 'an') before them. This is because uncountable nouns refer to things that cannot be counted or quantified in discrete units. However, the definite article 'the' can be used before uncountable nouns to indicate specificity or to refer to a particular instance of the noun. Here are the most important groups of mass nouns that are not preceded by articles:
You can not use articles 'a, an' before names of languages, but if the word 'language' is used after the name, you can use the article 'the' before it. Check out the examples:
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, a phrase, or even a clause that describes a meal (whether used before or after the meal), you can use the article 'the'. Check out the examples:
dinner, breakfast, lunch, etc.
/ / lunch together.')
/ / breakfast is served at the hotel.')
In this example, the 'that-clause' is describing the word 'dinner'; as a result, you can use the article 'the' before 'dinner'.
- academic subjects
physics, math, history, etc.
/ / history is my favorite subject at school.')
/ / physics seems hard to me.')
- games and sports
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:
Hanna, Fluffy, Harry, Oxford street, etc.
/ / Sam is standing over there.')
My mother calls my cat
/ / fluffy.')
cities, most countries, continents, lakes, etc.
I have always wanted to go on safari in
- days of the week and months
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:
Local High School Wins State Championship in Football
Men Walk on Moon
Notices 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.')
/ / 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, the preposition 'by' is not used. So we must use an article.
Some abstract nouns can be preceded by articles and some cannot. Compare the 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 adding 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
Before Some Determiners (any, some, my, this)
We cannot use an article with some other words that specify a noun (determiner), e.g. any, some, my, her, this, that.
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
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