I learned that I always have to use an article before a countable noun with some exceptions.

But I am not sure this is right time to omit the article

The old model of traditional kiln

A new paradigm of tourist attraction

The examples above are excerpted from professional articles and I just wonder they are typo or right usage of zero article.

Thank you!

  • 1
    In both of your examples, the noun represents the entire class of the thing in question, almost as if it were a proper name. The same applies when we use a noun after kind of and type of; we say "A new kind of kiln" and "A new type of attraction". This is a standard use of the zero article. Aug 1, 2017 at 1:03
  • @P.E.Dant I read few articels about the article and generalization and it feels like I have to pluralize traditional kiln and tourist attraction.
    – MAT
    Aug 1, 2017 at 1:42
  • Use zero article with plural countable nouns and with uncountable nouns to refer to a representative of the class of things (e.g. Mobile phones have revolutionised . . . ;Technology is revolutionising the way people communicate.)
    – MAT
    Aug 1, 2017 at 1:42
  • or adding "the" can be an answer perhaps? [Use the definite article (the) to refer to an entire class of things (e.g. The mobile phone has revolutionised communications.)]
    – MAT
    Aug 1, 2017 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


Although in general we precede a singular, uncountable noun with a determiner such as the indefinite article a(n) or the definite article the, there are many instances in which we use the zero article (which means no article at all) before such a noun.

We use the zero article when the noun expresses a reference to a general class of things. The most common examples of this usage are phrases which use the expressions kind of, type of, and sort of:

  • I like that kind of pickle
  • He plays a special type of guitar.
  • What sort of car is it?

It is not only after kind of, type of, and sort of that the zero article is used. There are many times when we use a noun to represent a class of things:

  • What brand of cracker do you like?
  • Ford is my favorite make of automobile.
  • Cherry is the best flavor of pie.

In your examples, the nouns kiln and attraction do not refer to specfic, individual things. Instead, they represent kilns and attractions in general:

  • The old model of traditional kiln

Kiln here refers not to a specific individual kiln, but to all kilns of the traditonal type (or model.)

  • A new paradigm of tourist attraction

Attraction here refers not to a specific individual attraction, but to attractions as a concept.

  • Would you please tell me what's the difference between an uncountable noun and a singular noun, both take singular verbs I guess. "The rice is on that part of the shelf" I think it's wrong to say a rice is ... . In other words, I think all the uncountable nouns are singular. Perhaps, I am neglecting something.
    – Cardinal
    Aug 1, 2017 at 5:40
  • 2
    @Cardinal Police is an example of a plural uncountable noun. Aug 1, 2017 at 5:43
  • I see. I think my objection comes from the fact that I learned to judge nouns based on the type of verb they take. I must admit that I always considered police a noun as plural as "eggs".
    – Cardinal
    Aug 1, 2017 at 5:46
  • 3
    @Cardinal Police, like scissors, takes a plural verb, and has no singular form. You can learn more by searching for the phrase plurale tantum. Aug 1, 2017 at 7:29
  • 1
    "You can learn more by searching for the phrase plurale tantum" --between wind and water, товарищ!
    – Victor B.
    Aug 1, 2017 at 22:19

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