Tell me please if there is any difference in meaning between the following sentences.

In America the food is delicius and caloric.

In America food is delicious and caloric.

In the first sentence, I am not talking about a specific food, but food that is made in the US in general. Is the article optional in the sentence? If it is not, then what does it add to the meaning?

  • Pretty much equivalent. Articles are some of the oldest words in the language (at least 1000 years old). That's a long time to develop idiomatic usages for which we have long lost any explanation. – user105719 Jan 28 '20 at 9:51

"Food" is a mass noun. Without an article, it could mean all the food in the world, or it could mean any quantity of food, eg:

I haven't had any food today.

Humans need food.

There is a food shortage.

You need a definite article when you are referring to specific food. In your example, it is only the food in America that you want to refer to. It is essentially the same as saying "American food".

You could say "Food is good in America", but that doesn't specifically mean American food.

Consider this example:

Cold drinks taste good in hot weather.

This is a generalisation about all cold drinks, but the statement is really about the conditions you drink it in, not the drink itself, because you could drink the same drink in cold weather and make a different statement about it. The same is true if you say "food is good in America". It is like saying any food is good if you eat it in America. If you buy some food in Mexico and take it accross the border to eat it in America, it doesn't change the properties of the food. So, to be clear that you specifically mean the food that is in America, you need the article.

  • I definitely heard natives English speakers dropped "the" in similar context. For example "Food in the restaurant was delicious" not "the food in... What if I just say "Food in America is delicious" what could that mean? Could that mean that some food is delicious? – Dmytro O'Hope Jan 28 '20 at 9:56
  • @DmytroO'Hope I've added a bit more detail, hope that explains it. – Astralbee Jan 28 '20 at 10:01

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