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Sentence is -

For a long time, paracetamol has been recommended as a first-line drug in pain management guidelines.

On Google, I found that "paracetamol" is a common noun and is also a singular countable. So, why can’t I use an article before it? Is it something like when a singular common noun is used in a general sense, we do not use any article?

Source

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  • On Google, I found that "paracetamol" is a common noun and is also a sinular countable. It would help if you explained where you saw this so we can judge whether it's trustworthy or if you've misunderstood (and also spelt singular correctly if that's what you meant).
    – Stuart F
    Oct 24, 2023 at 9:46

1 Answer 1

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Paracetamol is the name of a substance, and is normally non-countable. As a non-count noun it doesn't use a singular article, or have a plural form.

It does have a countable sense, meaning "a single tablet containing paracetamol" In this sense "a paracetamol" is correct.

I had a headache so I took a paracetamol and lay down. (one tablet)

If you take paracetamol you should not drink alcohol. (an amount)

How much paracetamol did you take? (amount) How many paracetamols did you take? (number of tablets)

This is the same as "I drink coffee" and "I drank a coffee", where the latter means "one cup of coffee".

You would use a definite article, when the question "Which paracetamol?" can be answered:

I had some asprin and paracetamol in my cupboard, but I threw the paracetamol away, because it was out of date. (uncountable but with a definite article in the second use because it has been definitely identified by the first use)

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  • Can I put "the" before paracetamol in the same sentence?- For a long time, paracetamol has been recommended as a first-line drug in pain management guidelines. Oct 24, 2023 at 8:36
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    No, because it isn't definite (you can't answer the question "which paracetamol?"). So no definite article
    – James K
    Oct 24, 2023 at 8:39
  • Secondly, is there something like when a singular, countable common noun is used in a general sense, we do not use any article? Oct 24, 2023 at 8:46
  • When it is non-count you don't use an indefinite article. A common use of non-count nouns is to name substances. "coffee", "wood", "iron", "water" are all (usually) non-count nouns that name substances.
    – James K
    Oct 24, 2023 at 8:49
  • No, because it isn't definite (you can't answer the question "which paracetamol?"). So no definite article. If I have the answer or if I have to say or indicate towards a particular paracetamol, can I use "the"? Example: The paracetamol that you eat had adverse effects. Oct 24, 2023 at 8:51

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