2

I wrote

However, in most existing treebanks, [a ?] dependency or phrase structure is used [to annotate the sentences], depending on the syntax properties of the language.

I am not sure if I need article "a" before dependency or phrase structure, if it is possible I prefer not to have it. (structure can be uncountable/countable)

Update This paragraph from Wikipedia use them without article, why?! :

Some treebanks follow a specific linguistic theory in their syntactic annotation (e.g. the BulTreeBank follows HPSG) but most try to be less theory-specific. However, two main groups can be distinguished: treebanks that annotate phrase structure (for example the Penn Treebank or ICE-GB) and those that annotate dependency structure (for example the Prague Dependency Treebank or the Quranic Arabic Dependency Treebank).

  • I'd say it's optional. If I can find some resources, I'll change this into an answer. – James Webster Oct 19 '15 at 14:06
  • It is optional, but I would advice you to drop the last comma. :) :( – Usernew Oct 19 '15 at 14:09
  • Can you give the whole paragraph? – snailboat Nov 18 '15 at 16:49
  • @snailboat now I can't find the article, but to give more context, I provided a similar paragraph from Wikipedia – Ahmad Nov 18 '15 at 17:12
1

it is dependency structure and [dependency] plays the adjective role.

I had misunderstood the jargon in the sentence. I've done a bit of research on "treebanks" and "dependency structure". With this new information, I would say the indefinite article is required.

This makes your sentence:

However, in most existing treebanks, a dependency or phrase structure is used to annotate the sentences, depending on the syntax properties of the language.

Using the definite article the would be wrong as you are not referencing a specific structure.


I'd say the indefinite article here is optional, however if you do include it, I'd include it in front of "phrase structure" too.

However, in most existing treebanks, dependency or phrase structure is used, depending on the syntax properties of the language.

However, in most existing treebanks, a dependency or a phrase structure is used, depending on the syntax properties of the language.


This extract from the Wikipedia article on Zero Article Marking gives more information on where the article is dropped.

English also uses no article before a mass noun or a plural noun if the reference is indefinite, a thing that is not specifically identifiable in context.[3] For example: generic mass noun: Happiness is contagious.
generic plural noun: Cars have accelerators.
generic plural noun: They want equal rights.
indefinite mass noun: I drink coffee.
indefinite plural noun: I saw cars.

"Dependancy" isn't any of these however! It is countable. It is singular. It isn't a mass noun. I'm not sure why the article can be dropped here. I'm looking for more resources!

  • Thank you, but it is dependency structure and structure plays the adjective role, I think we should consider structure – Ahmad Oct 19 '15 at 15:56
  • Do you mean that "dependency" is the adjective? – James Webster Oct 19 '15 at 15:57
  • Yes, it is the dependency structure or the phrase structure, and I left out the first structure, I even suspect I must use the – Ahmad Oct 19 '15 at 16:00
  • I updated my question, and referred to an article from Wikipedia where they use zero article but why? – Ahmad Nov 18 '15 at 17:13

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