And you know I hate train rides the most?

I see that "train" is a noun. Why isn't there an article before it, as in:

And you know I hate the/a train rides the most?"

2 Answers 2


The complete noun phrase is "train rides." So your question is ultimately about the use of articles with rides.

  1. We do not use "a" with a plural noun.

  2. We do not use "the" with the first mention of a plural noun.

  3. If a noun refers to a plurality of things that can be understood from context, then you may use "the." Example:

Climate change threatens the oceans.

"The oceans" is commonly understood to mean "all of the oceans." But that is not the case in your sentence. You are referring to an unspecified, abstract group of train rides.

The following creates a context in which "the train rides" is appropriate:

When I was in Europe, I sometimes travelled by bus and other times by train. The train rides were terrible.

Having already referred to my travels by train, when I mention my train rides again, I may use "the." The context has specified which train rides I mean.


"Train" is a noun, but it's not the noun.

We're talking about rides on trains -- and "trains" is plural in that phrasing.  The reason that it isn't plural in the phrase "train rides" is that it is attributive.  It's job in that phrase is a role that's more typically filled by adjectives.

In other languages, adjectives have declensions.  They have forms that mark number and case.  This isn't true in English.  Nouns have forms that mark number (and a case, if we count the genitive 's) but adjectives can only mark grammatical number denotatively.  It's part of the adjective's definition and meaning, or it's just not part of the adjective at all.

An attributive noun, like the "train" in "train rides", is enough like an adjective that it doesn't mark number or case, either.  We use the singular form even when it represents a plural idea.  Choice of article (including the choice of a null article) depends on grammatical number, so such a choice doesn't exist here. 

"Rides" is the noun.

For this noun phrase in this context, the null article is the correct choice.  The noun is plural, and it's meaning in context is much closer to "any train rides" than it is to "the distinctly specified train rides".  The indefinite article is not appropriate because the noun is not countably singular.  The definite article is not appropriate because the reference itself is indefinite.

In the phrase "train rides", no article for "train" is even in question, and the article for "rides" is the indefinite plural null article.  "Train rides" is a complete and coherent noun phrase.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .