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. Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 16:21
  • In what way do native speakers drop articles? And yes, I am implying that we don't.
    – user6951
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 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.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 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 :) Commented Nov 23, 2014 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" ? Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 22:00

1 Answer 1


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.

  • But when they are dropped for brevity, it is not grammatically correct, right? Commented Nov 23, 2014 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
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 23:12
  • 1
    And as part of Conversational Deletion (which John Lawler has often discussed on English.SE).
    – user230
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 23:34

You must log in to answer this question.

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