Crime is a serious problem nowadays.

The definite article is not used in this sentence with the "crime" since the word means "activities breaking the law" in general, it's uncountable in the sentence given above.

But are the following sentences correct? Can the word "apple" be used with the zero article? I suppose that it can't as "apple" is a countable noun, and the definite article before the "apple" is necessary when speaking about any particular kind of fruit.

Apple is the most common fruit in the region.
Apple is my favourite fruit.

(Should be "the apple" in both sentences.)

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  • 6
    This only works for mass and abstract nouns, to my knowledge. ("Apple is my favourite flavour" would work, but "Apples are my favourite fruit.") Someone will probably come along and correct my correction, though. Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 5:27
  • 2
    You could just say "The apple is the most common fruit in the region", in formal speech.
    – Bluefire
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 7:35
  • Yes, I know, but is the sentence "Apple is the most common fruit..." incorrect?
    – Yulia
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 8:23
  • 2
    @Yulia Yes, it is incorrect. Either Luke's "Apples" or Bluefire's "The apple" would be acceptable abstractions to use, but you would need to use one of them to make the sentence work.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


The "zero article", otherwise known as simply not using an article, either indicates a proper name, or an abstract concept.

Apple is the most common fruit in the region.

This cannot be correct, because you are not talking about the abstract concept of an apple, but rather about a very real and concrete object.

Apple is the platonic ideal of fruit.

This example is closer to correct, because we are now talking about the concept of the apple, but even here, apple is simple to real and concrete to be usable with the zero article. This is also wrong.

Apple is on my mind.

Finally, we have come to a correct sentence, thoroughly converting a concrete noun into an abstract concept that I am merely thinking about. But even here, alone, without context, the idea of treating the word "apple" as an abstract concept is so strange that most people would reinterpret the sentence to treat "Apple" as a proper noun instead, especially since there exists a very real and well known company with the proper name of "Apple". But it does work, grammatically, the other way... it's just a very strange idea. You might find it in a philosophy textbook.

  • Upvoted, although I guess I'd say if I saw any of the three sentences printed in a book, I don't think I'd consider it calamitously wrong. I suspect I wouldn't even notice it.
    – fred2
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 16:10
  • I disagree completely with "apple" as an uncountable noun, unless it refers to a flavor.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 16:11

Crime is very serious today. Uncountable

BUT, everyday speech

Apples are the most common fruit in the region. [countable] Apples are my favorite fruit. [countable]

BUT, "literarily" or as a category:

  • The apple has a special meaning in the history of Western painting.
  • The medicinal benefits of the apple are much touted.

The use of the like that is not usually found in everyday, spoken English except maybe in a professor's lecture or a conversations among intellectuals.

  • The apples on the table are mine, not yours. [specific]
  • Tsk, tsk, tsk. Some people just do not know the rules. Everything in my answer is exactly what the grammar books say.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 16:15

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