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I'd like to ask about use of an article before the noun 'trim' when 'trim' means: "material that is used to decorate clothes, furniture, cars, etc., especially along the edges, by being a different color, etc". That is from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

And also from the dictionary there are example sentences as below.

The car is available with black or red trim.

a blue jacket with a white trim

The kitchen units comes in white with a grey trim

I am wondering why there's no article in the first one and there is one in the rest ones. Doesn't it matter whether there is an article or not for all the sentences?

Thank you. Any explanation will be appreciated.

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In any of those example sentences, the indefinite article can be included or left out with no significant change in meaning. In the use of "trim" there is a little ambiguity between it meaning a specific bit of material, and its use to mean a general theme of decoration. So, I might try to renovate my old kitchen cabinets by adding a single grey strip along the top edge of the white casing. Then it would be natural to use "a grey trim" to refer to that feature. Now I am gong to collect my new car, which I chose with red trim. That would probably refer to multiple decorative features - the seat fabric, the highlights on the dashboard and the stripes on the external paintwork. So I am not really referring to the material, but to the overall effect. In special circumstances I might refer to the materials "I need to complain about my car - the trims on the front and rear seats are different colours"

In common use, the difference between these meanings is not important - the piece of material and the decorative effect it produces are not the same thing but they mean the same to the speaker so it is not important to them, whether an article is used. Grammatically, use of the article is probably correct, but it sounds pedantic and old fashioned on many cases.

  • Thank you for the excellent answer. I understand that now thanks to your detailed explanation. :) – Smart Humanism Sep 18 at 6:23
  • Your answer helps really very much and I appreciate it. But I'd like to ask one thing from your answer. For the example situation of you being about to collect your new car with red trim(the red seat fabric, the red highlights on the dashboard and the red stripes on the external paintwork), can I say "your new car with a red trim" instead of "your new car with red trim"? Or should I say "your new car with red trims" as the trim set is composed of multiple elements? – Smart Humanism Sep 21 at 18:00
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    I'd say that "your new car with red trims" sounds a little unnatural - but I think that is a matter of style rather than the grammar being wrong. Either "your new car with the red trim" or "your new car with red trim" sounds fine. Note the first of these is not quite what you wrote, though. If you said "your new car with the red trim" it would emphasize that you noticed that colour. Perhaps you think it looks cool! Saying "your new car with a red trim" doesn't quite achieve that, and I am not sure when you'd use that construction - but again, I don't say it is grammatically wrong. – Ian Sep 22 at 14:12
  • Thank you for your additional reply. I appreciate it. To check, you mean your new car with a red trim and your new car with red trims are not grammatically wrong but are normally unnatural , right? If it is, how the two would sound in the case that components of the trim is not one but multiple - seat fabric, dashboard, external paintwork, etc.? And also I'd like to ask whether your new car with the red trim can be used when the components of trim are multiple. I am sorry if this sounds a bit like repetition of the same question. – Smart Humanism Sep 22 at 19:45
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    > not grammatically wrong but are normally unnatural , right? - Yes, that's correct. And, generally, just a little unnatural, not really terrible. > how the two would sound in the case that components of the trim is not one but multiple - I'd say, no difference. As I mentioned in the original answer, there is ambiguity between "trim" meaning an item of trim, and the overall effect. > whether your new car with the red trim can be used when the components of trim are multiple. - Yes, fine. – Ian Sep 22 at 21:08

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