According to the tab on the right I can ask question.

But we would never say that. I can ask a question. However, question is neither an an abstract nor uncountable noun.

I also noticed the same rule in an online system I use - I can add order.

Are these phrases incorrect or is it a rule that justifies omitting the articles?

  • 5
    This is headlinese, a style of writing used in headlines, captions, signs, labels and similar situations where little space is available. There's a very good description of headlinese in the accepted answer here. Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 18:05

1 Answer 1


Since this is not a formal communication, there is no hard and fast rule on how it should be done. It probably falls into the same category as advertising copy: short, punchy, to-the-point, since the user's attention span will be less than a goldfish's.

A few other things going on here:

The Text
With or without the a, Ask Question is perfectly understandable in what will happen if you click on it. This falls under the less-is-more category.

The Layout
The other possibilities: Questions and Unanswered are also available at this level of the menu hierarchy. Ask question is about the same size as Unanswered and the designer may have felt this was good. Only using Ask might be considered too short/small in comparison to other choices on that line. If Ask Question ws too short, one may expect the designer to do something to make it look the same as the others. The texts that are used are label_tags which acts as a clickable button, so keeping them the same size is good practice.

  • How can it be informal communication if it is a website of a company or Stack Exchange? Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 20:41
  • Formal communication usually has a stiffness about it interms of language and phrasing, in the extreme think of legal documents. Websites tend to want to be accessible and so will appear more casual and colloquial. Postings on ELL, need to be correct, but do not need to be formal. We do not start every question with To Whomever May Be Interested, but then again we don't write How'dy y'all (at least I've never seen it)
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 20:50

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