There is a text: "I was in the forest. Trees were dark"

If it is clear from a context what I refer to, I know native speakers tend to drop articles.

Does grammar allow it?

  • 1
    Your example usage isn't at all idiomatic. You could certainly get away with it in a literary/poetic context, but more likely might be "I was in the forest. Dark trees" - again, no article (no verb, either), but at least it's a relatively natural usage in both speech and literary contexts. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 23 '14 at 16:21
  • In what way do native speakers drop articles? And yes, I am implying that we don't. – user6951 Nov 23 '14 at 17:07
  • Nikolay: I went to the race. Cars were speeding around the track is not the same as I went to the race. Cars were fast. The latter is not idiomatic, the former is. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 23 '14 at 17:18
  • Thanks guys. As I understand, leaving out articles before plurals indicates that in our opinion the listener can't identify what we mean, or we don't want him to. CarSmack, I mean in conversations. I got an example from another native speaker :) – Nikolay Komolov Nov 23 '14 at 21:49
  • Does grammar allow to drop "the" if the reference is absolutely clear? "I am looking at the pictures. Pictures I am looking now at are so amazing" ? Sounds funny, but anyway... :) And can we speak generally about something specific? (This really puzzles me) "I was in the forest. Trees there, when I was walking, were dark" ? – Nikolay Komolov Nov 23 '14 at 22:00

Articles are sometimes dropped for brevity. Situations where this can happen include:

  • news headlines,
  • where one is taking notes, a statement or testimony, and needs to not write down unnecessary words - or is lazy,
  • where one is listing or reciting a timeline of events,
  • where space/time for communication is a premium, such as communicating over a radio

I was in the forest. Trees were dark

Not having anything else to go on, to me, this sounds like the sentence falls under the second item above.

|improve this answer|||||
  • But when they are dropped for brevity, it is not grammatically correct, right? – Nikolay Komolov Nov 23 '14 at 22:06
  • 1
    Probably not. It sounds weird if you aren't in one of those scenarios. Maybe the best way to describe it is that it's an accepted concession in certain circumstances. I would avoid using outside those circumstances. – LawrenceC Nov 23 '14 at 23:12
  • 1
    And as part of Conversational Deletion (which John Lawler has often discussed on English.SE). – snailcar Nov 23 '14 at 23:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.