Could you please advise whether I should use definite article 'the' in the below sentence?
I'm helping my little sister with an exercise of filling suitable article(s) into the blank of the sentence:
Without ______ (a / an / the / no article) ____ air and water, living things could not survive.
My sister and I both agree that we don't use indefinite articles 'a' or 'an' before uncountable nouns like 'air' and 'water'. However, we have different views about the use of 'the' or 'no article' in this sentence.
For me, no article is needed in the sentence because
Rule #3 - All things or things in general: Use no article with plural count nouns or any noncount nouns used to mean all or in general.
Noncount nouns are those which usually cannot be counted. Following are some common examples:
- Certain food and drink items: [...] sugar, tea, water, wine, yogurt
- Certain nonfood substances: air, cement, coal, dirt, [...]
I showed her some example sentences:
Without air there is no sound.
How many days can a human survive without water?
However, my sister thinks 'the' is needed in the sentence because
The definite article is used in front of things generally regarded as unique: The sun, the moon, the sea, the sky, the Arctic Circle, the environment, the capital, the air, the ground, etc.
and she found some examples as well:
Birds and insects could not fly without the air to support them. Without the air, humans would not be able to fly either.
We can’t survive for more than a few minutes without the air, so why isn’t the air as much a part of us as our legs or arms?
To put into more simpler terms, if your body is dehydrated and you have just finished a tough gym session and have eaten a protein rich meal – without the water the protein will never get to the muscles and therefore never get repaired.