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In the sentence:

Nothing drove me harder than my passion for the English language.

Is it correct to say 'the English language' instead of 'Englsih language'? What if I said 'passion for English language'? Is that weird or how does that change the meaning?

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I was tempted to agree first with deadrat and then with JavaLatte but after all, it's more subtle than that..

Yes, “the English Language” refers to the tongue spoken by billions all over the world and I now think that more importantly “the English Language” refers to the tongue as a particular example of the concept of language in the abstract, while without the article, “English Language” more likely deals with specific, concrete details.

A not-very-good - nay, a rather poor analogy might be to leave “the English Language” to describe a concept and to use just “English Language” when referring to either poetry or prose, depending on context, but not the whole shebang.

  • This is great. It's like 'the' means you're more aware of whatever follows 'the', as a whole concept. like The poor, The rich, so you see the bigger picture, English language in relation to the concept of language itself. – Gil Y. Dec 19 '16 at 2:07
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Both are valid in this context, but have different meanings.

If you refer to the English Language, you are referring to the language itself, as spoken by millions of people all over the world.

If you refer to English Language, you would probably be referring to the academic subject that you can study as a GCSE subject in England.

  • Thank you, this is very helpful. I was fishing for deeper semantics of the words as expressed in gut feelings or very subtle nuances felt by the native speakers. This helps a lot. – Gil Y. Dec 2 '16 at 3:07
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It's "the English language" in that context. Claiming to have "passion for English language" would be unnatural.

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    Welcome to ELL, Andy: thank you for your contribution. Generally, though, we expect a bit more information or explanation than this. – JavaLatte Nov 30 '16 at 16:21
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Use zero article with languages:

"They can speak English."

An exception is made when the word 'language' is used and you refer to the language itself, as spoken by millions of people all over the world:

"The English language is spoken in New Zealand."

No article is used before school or academic subjects. This rule applies, of course, if the subject is a language:

“I am studying three subjects in the morning: Chemistry, English and French.”
“English Language at Aston is ranked Top 25 in the UK for Graduate Prospects.“

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