Tell me please why the was dropped in the following sentence.

Powdered garlic is made from (the) fresh garlic that has been sliced and dried. It does not contain allicin, but is said to have allicin potential.

I cannot get why the article was omitted. I so often hear natives use the in defining adjective clauses that when I first read that, in my mind I read it with the. Was it the author's mistake? If not, then what would putting the article change in meaning there. The excerpt is from this article.

  • It's the difference between saying water had spilled on to the floor and the water you left in the bowl had spilled on to the floor. The first reference is general; the second is specific. Dec 3, 2018 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


It matters whether the relative clause identifies or merely describes.  Here, there isn't some particular amount of garlic identified by that description.  Presumably, any fresh garlic (even garlic that hasn't grown yet) can be sliced, dried, and powdered. 

This difference isn't limited to relative clauses and uncountable nouns.  For example, we can see the same effect using countable nouns and prepositional phrases:

The cat in the hat always causes trouble. 
A cat in a hat always causes trouble. 

In the first, both the cat and the hat are definitive.  The phrase "in the hat" identifies the cat.  The sentence presents that particular cat which happens to match that description as its subject. 

In the second, neither the cat nor the hat are definitive.  The phrase "in a hat" merely describes the cat.  Any cat, even one that doesn't have a hat yet, can serve as the subject of that sentence.  Without definitive articles, the sentence can act as a warning to not give hats to cats. 


Adding the definitive article to the original sentence would lead the reader to assume that the garlic in question already exists in that condition.  This is misleading.  To a native speaker's ear, it sounds awkward and unnatural. 


It is not a reference to a particular bit of garlic but a general reference to the ingredient or plant "garlic", here, garlic which has been sliced and dried.

Just as we don't say

Shoes are made of the leather. NO

we don't say

Powdered garlic is made from the fresh garlic...NO

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