We use by to mean something each or separate (e.g., one by one, step by step, electoral votes by state, wine consumption by country, etc.), and these bys suppress the following nouns' indefinite articles. For example, we say "electoral votes by state" rather than "electoral votes by a state" or "electoral votes by each state," nevertheless the state is even countable. Why must we omit these indefinite articles in front of the nouns right next to these bys?

  • Those nouns tend to be "uncountable(which gives a unique meaning)", especially before "a preposition". e.g. pose a threat(possible), the species are under threat of becoming extinct (no article - mass noun - unique meaning ); moreover, those phrases( if countably used) may sound weird to a native speaker 'cuz they could sound wrong. I hope this helps. – Alex TheBN Oct 18 '20 at 12:33
  • Thanks, but did you mean those nouns especially after "a preposition?" So are the nouns used in this way considered as temporarily uncountable nevertheless originally countable and hence suppresses preceding articles? – Junyong Kim Oct 18 '20 at 18:47

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