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Why is the article "the" missing from the noun "wind" in the following excerpt?

Outside, even through the shut window-pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no colour in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere.

1984 by George Orwell.

  • Are you asking why "the" is not before wind or not before little eddies of wind? Can you clarify, please? Can you say where you think "the" should be? I took the liberty of identifying where I think your confusion lies, and also because you mentioned wind. – Mari-Lou A Feb 25 '18 at 13:06
  • @Mari-Lou A The question now is a little bit different from the original one. I read it as the PO asking why there was no definite article before wind as though it should have been little eddies of the wind instead. – Michael Rybkin Feb 25 '18 at 13:26
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    Mari-Lou A, hello! Cookie Monster is right, my question is why author did not use "eddies of the wind"? As far as I know we use "the" in constructions like this - in the rain, in the wind, in the snow and so on. I think there is some generalization in the sentence about the wind, so author tells us that having eddies is one of the properties that every wind has. – Alwind Feb 25 '18 at 16:39
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Why do you think you would need one? Here, we're talking about wind, by and large, as a weather (or meteorological) phenomenon in general and not as a specific or unique instance of wind such as the north wind or the south wind. This would be the same thing as snow, rain, hail, sleet and so on and so forth, when we're referring to these weather events as meteorological conditions in general and not as specific instances of them. For example, "It took me two hours to shovel all the snow off the driveway." Here, we know what snow we're talking about—the one that was on the driveway. That was a specific instance of snow. Take a look at these two examples which I pulled off the Web:

Plus, there were banks of snow everywhere and it was freezing cold, which didn't encourage you to go out anyway.

A messy mix of sleet and freezing rain could create slick driving conditions today and Friday in the Lower Hudson Valley.

Another possible way to explain this that I can come up with is that this is in principle similar to how we say things like three bottles of beer, a glass of milk, two bottles of shampoo etc. When you say that you want a bottle of beer, you're not talking about any specific beer. Beer without a definite article here refers to the substance in general. You can think of eddies of wind in a similar manner. There is this substance (meteorological phenomenon) called wind and you've got just only a bunch of eddies of it (an eddy is just an amount).

Would you say my answer is making more sense to you now?

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    Cookie Monster, I understand what you are talking about. But here some more examples from the book: 1) "Presently they were in among a clump of ragged leafless shrubs, useless either for concealment or as protection from the wind." 2) "The wind whistled through the twigs and fretted the occasional, dirty-looking crocuses." What meaning of the wind is in these examples and why we need "the"? – Alwind Feb 25 '18 at 16:37
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    @Alwind That's a tougher one to explain. All I can say is that this is a usage thing—that's just how it's used. You can do something to protect yourself from strong gusts of wind or the wind itself. So, it's either certain amounts of wind, the wind (there is alway one; that's why, I think, there is a definite article in front of it) or wind (with no article) when referred to as a meteorological phenomenon in general. Does all that make sense to you? – Michael Rybkin Feb 25 '18 at 16:59
  • Cookie Monster, yes, it does. But from the example above "protection from the wind", does not it refer as a meteorological phenomenon in general? If so why we use "the"? I sence that wind is a meteorogical phenomenon we need to protect from. – Alwind Feb 25 '18 at 18:38
  • @Alwind Generally, no article if you think of wind as one of the several elements of weather such as rain, snow, sleet etc. With the article, if you're talking about the wind that's constantly blowing outdoors. Though, I'm pretty sure that there might be exceptions. – Michael Rybkin Feb 25 '18 at 18:49
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Normally, in English, we don't add the article between "of" and the meteorological condition that it belongs to

WRONG: drop of the rain
WRONG: gust of the wind
WRONG: ray of the sun
WRONG: bolt of the lightning

Instead, we normally omit it

CORRECT: drop(s) of rain
CORRECT: gust(s) of wind
CORRECT: ray(s) of sun
CORRECT: bolt of lightning

Oxford Dictionaries explain the meaning of the noun eddy

An eddy is a circular movement of wind, fog, or smoke

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