How to determine whether I need to use an article before a noun? Can I skip using a, an or the altogether?

This doubt has arisen because grammarly points out many a times to me to use determiner article where I have skipped it.


1.Chris came as a saviour and has collected the jacket from the shop and would ship it to Albert in next few days.

here, Grammarly asks to add 'the' before 'next few days'. I want to ask why? As I am writing this text at some point of time then next days of that point of time is clear. What value would adding a 'the' add?

  1. It is not true that the Bible exhorts one to become obsessed with moral duty to the extent of being a pedant.

Here Grammarly says that I have to add an article before moral duty. I don't understand what value an article might add here!

3.And, it is highly difficult to achieve that stability and harmony which is needed for success in spiritual world without satiating our worldly desires, hunger.

Here, Grammarly asks me to add an article before spiritual world. Why?

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    Welcome to the site! Unfortunately, Grammarly is not reliable... At all. I've tried it before, and it frequently makes incorrect suggestions. It would never be correct to add "an" before "moral." Jun 6, 2019 at 17:00
  • Thank you for your comment. I am new to Grammarly as well as this site. It would be very reassuring to me if Grammarly is wrong. Do you sense any mistake in my not using article in these sentences? Also, Grammarly didn't ask to add "an" before moral duty, it was suggesting "the" or "a". By "an article" I meant any of the articles. "an" was used before "article" by me in the question. You got confused a bit. :P
    – Prince Kadyan
    Jun 6, 2019 at 17:05
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    Oh, I completely misread your post. Grammarly is still wrong in this case. "Become obsessed with moral duty" is 100% correct. That said, you do need the definite article "the" in "the next few days." Jun 6, 2019 at 17:25
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    No doubt has arisen, only questions. We do not use doubt that way in English.
    – tchrist
    Jun 7, 2019 at 3:23
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    Possible duplicate of Articles: When do I use "a", "the", or "__"? Jun 7, 2019 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


"I eat meat."

"I eat an apple."

Some nouns are countable and some aren't -- things like "materials" such as cloth, meat, etc are not considered countable. For example, water is measured in some unit and thus isn't countable itself, whereas rocks can be measured by a number of items, and are countable.

Duty happens to fit into both. "Become obsessed with a moral duty" would imply there is something it's referring to, and using "the" would imply that there's a specific singular moral duty that matters. "Become obsessed with moral duty" just means obsessing oneself with the concept of duties in morality in general.

"World" is countable though. So, you must specify an article, just like you can't say "I ate apple for lunch"; you'd need to say "an apple" (or "the apple" if you're talking about a specific apple in context).

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    You could say "I ate apple for lunch" if you were talking about stewed or puréed apple, though. It's more likely that someone would eat an apple but there are people who can only eat soft food, and Emma Bunton claimed on TV the other day that she lived on baby food at one time so she could have said that she "had apple for lunch" during that period.
    – BoldBen
    Jun 7, 2019 at 4:51
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    @BoldBen That's true, thanks for the note. In terms of just apples as in the solid fruit themselves, hopefully this explanation is correct and makes sense. Jun 7, 2019 at 11:14
  • Thanks for this detailed comment @HyperNeutrino. It helps a lot. Though I would like to clarify that in the sentence " it is highly difficult to achieve that stability and harmony which is needed for success in spiritual world without satiating our worldly desires, hunger." I am talking about the general spiritual world. Spiritual world as an abstraction. It is not tangible and countable as the real world is. Can't I then use it without an article? Jun 7, 2019 at 18:29
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    @PrinceKadyan I see what you are trying to convey; however, the word "world" doesn't fit grammatically as an uncountable object. You could say "the world of spirituality" or just "spirituality", for example, as a concept, but the word "world" can be used as an abstraction of a concept but can't grammatically be uncountable. Jun 7, 2019 at 19:56
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    @PrinceKadyan Sorry, I don't really know of any since my native language is Chinese/English so I never really had to study grammar as much as it became intuition. You may consider Khan Academy's course on English Grammar but I don't really know how good it is in terms of thoroughness and friendliness to a non-native speaker. Practising English more will definitely make it more intuitive though. Good luck! Jun 10, 2019 at 13:19

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