I am one of those learners who have been greatly and negatively affected by various grammar myths. One of such myths is that you should always use "the" before a noun, by which you refer to an object in your field of vision.

This myth was crushed when I bumped into this sign in one of the USA airports:

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(this is not exactly the same sign, but the content is the same)

This sign was right next to the door that it referred to and, of course, I could see that door. Nevertheless, there is no "the" in it and I don't think this was a grammar mistake.

So now my question is quite practical: if a native American speaker is in his own kitchen, can see the refrigerator and wants his son to get a jar of jam from it, would he say:

Get the jam from refrigerator?


Get the jam from the refrigerator?

(would be great if you could also provide explanations as to why "the" should or should not be used in this case)


Signs, like newspaper headlines, can often break grammar rules by omitting an article - this might be to save space or make the sentence sound a bit snappier. You might find "Beware of dog!" instead of "Beware of the dog!" or "Keep off grass!" instead of "Keep off the grass!" In general speech, though, you still need to obey these rules - whilst the sign might say "Keep door closed!" if you were talking to someone you would still have to say "Please keep the door closed."

  • So, would you then say "Get the jam from the refrigerator?"? – brilliant May 7 '19 at 10:23
  • Yes, although I would nearly always shorten refrigerator to fridge in informal speech - "Could you get the jam from the fridge please?" – Showsni May 7 '19 at 10:35
  • I see. Thank you! – brilliant May 7 '19 at 10:43

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