I would like to know why there is no article (say "a") in front of the word "normal" in the phrase

A game in normal form?

This phrase is standard in game theory.

  • 3
    It's really just idiomatic preference in this exact context. There's nothing wrong with ...*in the normal form*, as can be seen from the number of times that occurs in Google Books. Note that if we change the adjective to standard the article remains optional, but idiomatically we invariably include it with, say, in the usual form. And we never include it with certain nouns - for example, ...in normal English. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


It's not that it's strictly incorrect to do so. It's just that it's more idiomatic to say "in normal form".

We don't say

the game is in the normal form

in game theory for the same reason that we don't say

the patient is in the surgery

in medicine. The articles are typically elided by native speakers.

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