Consider the following sentence:

I do not go to the office.

Is this correct English? Can I drop the article? My guess is that then it would mean that there's no office I can go to. And original phrase means that I work for a company, which has an office, but I don't go there for one reason or another. Correct me where I'm wrong please.

Also, I was told that there must be something before the word "office." Is that really so?

old question

I was told that (no way to link to the specific comment),

They are accepting "my office" but the answer at the top is "the office". As long as the English matches what we would normally say without adding or subtracting extra words, they accept it. Something has to be before the word office in English, so they allow "my."

From this I gather that you can't just say, "I don't go to office." Is that so? Why? I'm not referring to any particular office here, since I don't go to any of them.


1 Answer 1


In English, when you don't have a particular place or thing in mind, you have to tell us that with a word. Leaving out a word means something different.

The "zero article" is a grammatical concept in the English language which transforms your singular-form noun into a proper noun (the name of something specific), or a generic mass noun, a little like making it into an abstract concept instead of a real thing or place*. What is the "zero article"? It's simply not having any determiner placed before the singular form noun.

So, unless you are talking about a sleazy bar named "Office" or the abstract platonic ideal of "office" (which is nonsense), we need a determiner of some sort. For example:

  • an article (a, the)
  • a demonstrative (this, that, those)
  • a pronoun (my, his, her, their)
  • a quantifier (many, a lot of, any, a few... although these would require you to pluralize "office")
  • a number (one, two, three, etc... pluralizing "office" for all but "one")
  • a distributive (each, every, either)
  • a difference word (another)

If you make use of ANY of the above determiners, you will avoid the zero article. Otherwise, it's a proper name, mass noun, or abstract concept, which is typically nonsense.

Since you want to say that you aren't going to any particular office, you need either the indefinite article: "an", or you need a quantifier: "any".

I don't go to an office. I don't go to any office(s).

Either will work adequately to convey your intended meaning.

* Footnote: There are a limited number of specific exceptions to this rule. "School", "Prison/Jail", and if you are British, "Hospital".

  • 1
    It's not really clear if you use "mass noun" and "abstract concept" interchangeably. From what I can see, mass nouns can be abstract (advice), or not (bread).
    – x-yuri
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 0:23
  • 1
    To be fair, while mass nouns and abstract concepts are different thing, when mistakenly using the zero article where you didn't intend, a listener won't be able to tell if the new (incorrect) sentence refers to a mass noun or an abstract. When you take a noun that's not a mass noun, and treat it like a mass noun, the idea is also pretty abstract. So the two types meld in an English speaker's mind as we try to figure out the meaning of the sentence. Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 12:19

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