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There was chaise longue at the end of the dressing room, and Clea crept to it now and lay down, pulling her knees up to her chin. (Clea & Zeus Divorce by Emily Prager,p.54)

I don’t find out why there isn’t any article before a countable noun, chaise longue. I suspect a definite or indefinite article could be not required when there should be one referent and it’s not worth to establish particular identity or reference between speaker and addressee. But I bet it’s only a groundless imagination. Why isn’t there any article?
(Can this between speaker and addressee be used without articles? I guess it could be for it's a matched nouns.)

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I think it's simply an error in the text - there should be an article there. –  Nigel Harper May 1 at 11:36

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It looks plain wrong to me.

There may be exceptions to this rule, but:

  • Countable nouns (like "chaise longue", "book", and "Yeti") need an article (or another determiner).
  • Uncountable nouns (like "archaeology", "information", and "terror") don't need one, and often shouldn't have one.

Right:

There was a chaise longue at the end of the dressing room.

There was a book at the end of the dressing room.

There was a Yeti at the end of the dressing room.

There was archaeology at the end of the dressing room.

Wrong:

There was chaise longue at the end of the dressing room.

There was book at the end of the dressing room.

There was Yeti at the end of the dressing room.

There was an information at the end of the dressing room.

Right, but only because some words, like "cake", can be used countably or uncountably:

There was cake at the end of the dressing room.

There was a cake at the end of the dressing room.

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To clarify the "cake" issue: "There was cake" means that some amount of cake was present or available (such as to eat). There could be whole, partial, or sliced cake(s). "There was a cake" means someone baked a complete cake and placed it somewhere (at least initially, whole). "There were cakes" would mean that there were at least two more or less whole cakes present. –  Phil Perry May 1 at 14:01
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I wouldn't include "cake" in the initial list; if you wanted, a third section of just "cake" working both ways could be good, but in the first list I'd use an always-uncountable noun. Start with the basics, get to weird cases like "cake" later. –  KRyan May 1 at 16:25
    
You wouldn't say, "There was archaeology at the end of the dressing room", not because of any issue involving articles, but because it is not clear what it would mean. Archaeology is a field of study: it doesn't make much sense to talk about it having a location. You can say, "Bob studied archaeology" or "Archaeology helps us to understand ancient history". I suppose you could talk about archaeology being in a place in the sense of using the word as shorthand for a department of a school or a museum. Like, "Where is archaeology?" "It's in the east wing, second floor." –  Jay Sep 22 at 18:54
    
In the book "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", runs a sentence - "The will was holograph, for Mr. Utterson, though he took charge of it now...". This should also count as an error right? –  hatter Sep 26 at 16:11
    
@hatter: Probably not, no. In this case, Stevenson (the author) is almost certainly using "holograph", an old (legal?) term for a handwritten document, as an adjective. You can say "this is a holograph", but (I believe) you can also say "this is a holograph document", in which case "this document is holograph" is also correct. –  Tim Pederick Sep 29 at 12:06

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