yesterday I went to a restaurant. I talked to _ waiters, I gave compliments to the hostess.
Is it true that this sentence will be equally fine whether I use "_ waiters" or "the waiters"?
I understand why we use "the hostess" - because "hostess" is expected to be in any typical restaurant and she's more often than not expected in singular (i.e. she's "unique within the given context") Similar to "the floor" and "the ceiling" or "the kitchen" in this context. But why is it possible to say just "waiters"? (if it is possible at all?)
When it comes to nouns in plural this approach with "expected items" doesn't always work. I often come across plural nouns that are definitely "expected to be/ implied" in the context but they have zero article:
This prison is notorious and has been in the news several times because The warden treats _ inmates like animals.
In this sentence "THE warden" is obvously a good choice because "warden" is expected to be in any typical prison and he is unique in the context of any given prison i.e. there's usually only 1 warden for 1 prison. But what about "inmates"? They are also expected to be in any typical prison. However, we are not obliged to say "the inmates" for some reason.
Is it true that in these 2 sentences It's perfectly fine to use "waiters" and "inmates" without "the"?