According to textbooks, nouns accompanied by particularizing attributes take the definite article.

Then why do we say “the English language” but not “the English cuisine?”
Likewise, we say “at the altitude of 100 kilometers, which is the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space…” but not “at the room temperature, which is 25 degrees Celsius.”

Am I misunderstanding the concept of particularizing attributes?

2 Answers 2


Language, altitude, cuisine and temperature can be used as either countable or non-countable ('mass') nouns. In the examples you gave, cuisine and temperature are used as mass nouns, and articles are not used - English cuisine, Italian cuisine, foreign cuisine, local cuisine, room temperature, blood temperature.

Language and altitude are being used as countable nouns with articles - the language of France, the altitude of 3000 metres.

Countable and uncountable nouns


English cuisine, as does several other nouns, stands without the need of a definite article (or whatever it's being called this week). It simply depends on the noun and the need for more effective speech.

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    This is not really a helpful answer.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 16:21

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