Example with a context (Rare deep-sea encounter with sperm whale videotaped off Louisiana):

  1. The footage reveals the curious nature of an iconic species of toothed whale that is known to dive deeply into the abyss in search of its favorite prey, the giant squid.

Don't we need an article before the expression "toothed whale"?

If not, could you please explain why an article is not needed? And is this a grammar pattern that I can just stick any noun in and use?

For another example, there is:

  1. The species of Bengali tiger is in danger of becoming extinct.
  • 4
    Headlines are highly compressed to save space, and the omission of articles in them is common. See headlinese.
    – choster
    Apr 16, 2015 at 18:26
  • 2
    Asker, your two examples are not parallel. The species of Bengali tiger is not correct, but A species of Bengali tiger is. Apr 16, 2015 at 19:08
  • Your title and the bolded text in your question both DO show an article: "an iconic species of toothed whale". If you're referring to the lack of article in the actual headline ("rare deep-sea encounter with sperm whale..."), you might want to edit the question to make it clear that that is the actual element you're asking about.
    – Hellion
    Apr 16, 2015 at 20:06
  • Do these two examples have the same type problem that you're asking about? "The Ford Explorer is a type of SUV." "The Ford Explorer is a type of an SUV" I think I understand what you might be confused about, but I'd like to be certain.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 16, 2015 at 21:22
  • 3
    @Hellion I think OP is referring to the lack of a determiner on toothed whale. Apr 16, 2015 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


The phrase "an iconic species of toothed whale" is correct as written, and it would not be correct to insert an article before "toothed whale".

Species is one of various nouns that take a bare noun phrase (with no article) as a complement of of. They all have related meanings; here are some examples:

  • a species of pine tree
  • a kind of machine
  • a type of game
  • a style of hat
  • a genre of short story

When the first noun is plural, the second noun may optionally be plural as well:

  • several species of pine tree(s)
  • several kinds of machine(s)
  • several types of game(s)
  • several styles of hat(s)
  • several genres of short story/ies

The species of Bengali tiger is in danger of becoming extinct.

This could be correct English, but it depends on what you mean. If you mean that the "Bengali tiger" is a species of tiger that's in danger of becoming extinct, then this is not grammatical; you should simply say "The Bengali tiger is in danger of becoming extinct" (and the fact that it's a species can be left implicit). (In real life, incidentally, it's actually called the "Bengal tiger", and is just a subspecies of tiger.)

For this sentence to be correct English, there would have to be multiple species of Bengali tiger, of which you were referring to just one. For example, the following paragraph is correct English:

This park is home to two species of finch and one species of hummingbird. Both finch species are common in this part of the country, but the species of hummingbird is endangered in the wild, so this is a rare opportunity for you to see it.

(where "the species of hummingbird" refers to the species of hummingbird found in the park).

  • Hmmm... sounds good, but I can think of examples that are to me grammatical and natural. Fsjyfrr is a kind of a game where (in which) everybody gets three tries at...
    – user6951
    Apr 17, 2015 at 6:55

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