• He's taller than the other two.

  • One factory of the four has already been idled in the town.

'Two' and 'four' in these sentences are still grammatically numerals and they took articles, right?

The articles in the sentences are not linked to some omitted phantom nouns, are they ('the other two [boys]', 'of the four [factories]')?
So what is the complete list of parts of speech that can take articles (not just be next to them)? Is it only nouns, numerals, and pronouns ('the one who...')?


1 Answer 1


First, you are discussing numbers, which are mental concepts, rather than numerals, which are symbols.

Second, a number can apply directly only to nouns or pronouns. It can be applied indirectly to verbs as in

He fell down on the ice three times

Notice that "three" is syntactically applied to the noun "times," but the sense of the phrase relates to the verb.

Third, in the cases that you are referring to, we have ellipsis: the relevant noun is dropped. For example, assuming that previous context makes clear that we are talking about boys rather than giraffes,

He is taller than the other two boys

gets shortened to

He is taller than the other two

"Phantom noun" is a nice phrase.

For the issue of when the article is needed, please see the indicated reference.

  • Numerals are a part of speech, not just symbols Jan 4, 2020 at 1:11
  • So the answer to the title question is no, right? Jan 4, 2020 at 1:23
  • Numerals are symbols, such as XXIII or 17_{16}, each of which represents a unique number. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numeral_system And, assuming I understand your question, if an article is appropriate, it pertains to an explicit or implied noun, not to a number. We do not say in English "The seven is a prime number." Jan 4, 2020 at 2:35

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