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Bed is being used as both the countable and uncountable meaning as in

  1. Simon lay in bed thinking.
  2. She got into bed and turned out the light.
    (source: Longman)

I wonder whether this she got out of bed can be the meaning of not just she woke up, but can imply this meaning: ‘(having woken up an hour ago, and stayed in bed or on the bed) she got out of bed’.

I mean, can bed be used as a countable noun without articles as in she got out of bed (question #1)? If it can, can we say she got out of her/the bed with determiners? (question #2).

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Question #1 is simple: Yes.

She got out of bed.

Yes, that can mean that she got off her bed of laying there for some time.

Question #2 is the tricky one.

Answering questions that ask, "Can you do X in English?" is difficult, because there are several factors at play. Depending on what X is, the answer is often:

1) Yes, you can – but that doesn't mean most native speakers would.
2) Yes, you can – but typically only in certain contexts when it makes sense.

I'm playing around with some sample sentences in my head, trying to figure out when a determiner would sound natural, and when it would sound out-of-place.

Here's what I've come up with:

She tossed and turned for at least an hour after she woke from the disturbing dream. Finally, she got out of bed and got dressed. (Sounds fine)

She tossed and turned for at least an hour after she woke from the disturbing dream. Finally, she got out of her bed and got dressed. (OPINION: The word her isn't necessary, but it doesn't sound terribly awkward, either)

She tossed and turned for at least an hour after she woke from the disturbing dream. Finally, she got out of his bed and got dressed. (OPINION: A determiner might actually be useful if a writer wanted to emphasize that she wasn't sleeping in her own bed)

She tossed and turned for at least an hour after she woke from the disturbing dream. Finally, she got out of the bed and got dressed. (OPINION: The word the seems like its just begging to be removed; if she were in her own bed, I would omit it, although it might be okay if she was, say, sleeping in a hotel room)

Also, determiners are actually necessary when preceding an adjective modifying bed:

She tossed and turned for at least an hour after she woke from the disturbing dream. Finally, she got out of the messy bed and got dressed. (Sounds fine)

She tossed and turned for at least an hour after she woke from the disturbing dream. Finally, she got out of messy bed and got dressed. (Incorrect; a determiner is needed here)

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1  
From your well-arranged account, I get an idea that if there is already implied definiteness, we need not use some article that would be “redundant”. (“The interpretation of bare role NPs invariably definite - CGEL,p.409”) Thank you for your refined answer. –  Listenever Jun 17 at 9:24
    
What was she laying in her bed? Eggs? I suspect that you mean lying on/in her bed. –  Scott Jun 17 at 18:14

Maybe I’m misunderstanding Question #1, but I believe that the answer is “No”.  We would say

All twelve children got out of bed.

or

Everybody in the hotel got out of bed.

Even though these sentences are clearly referring to multiple beds, we still say “bed” rather than “beds.”  Compare to

All twelve children wore hats.

or

Everybody in the hotel got into sailboats.

“Bed” is used in phrases like go to bed and [they are] in bed, similar to

  • “in jail” / “in prison”
  • “in school”
  • “on vacation” / (Br.E. only) “on holiday”
  • (Br.E. only) “in hospital”

I believe that, in these examples with no article, “bed” is uncountable.  Am I wrong?

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You're right, bed is definitely not a countable noun in this case. If it is a noun, it's used in the sense of the concept of being at rest or asleep, which typically takes place in bed. I'd say go to bed and get out of bed are phrasal verb constructions, because they have quite specific meanings and usages, but bed is uncountable either way. –  Esoteric Screen Name Jun 18 at 1:21

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