On Sundays he makes pizza. Sometime he fries chicken or fixes Chinese food. My mother watches and helps. She cuts the vegetables and tosses the salad.

Please explain why there is no article before pizza and chicken, as both nouns are common singular and general. Also, please explain, why the article the is used before vegetables and salad. Vegetables is a common plural noun and salad is a common singular noun.

  • You don't need articles before vegetables or salad. And you could have an article before pizza, chicken, and Chinese food. The difference is stylistic,not grammatical.
    – bib
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:52
  • Possible duplicate of Are frozen pizzas countable or uncountable?
    – choster
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


On Sundays he makes pizza.

This could be he makes pizzas (count noun) or he makes pizza (mass noun) - both are in use. He makes a pizza is possible, but would imply that he only ever makes one pizza.

Sometimes he fries chicken ...

Exactly the same as "pizza": "chickens" or "a chicken" would both be possible; except that when you refer to chickens as count nouns ("chickens" or "a chicken") it tends to mean whole chickens, rather than just some chicken-meat.

... or Chinese food.

"Food" is always a mass noun (except, like many mass nouns, when it means "kinds of food").

In all the above, you have not yet introduced the food in question to the discourse, so "the" is not appropriate.


She cuts the vegetables. She tosses the salad.

Even though the vegetables and the salad have not yet been explicitly mentioned, the prior reference to the pizza or chicken has brought the meal into the discourse, so "the" may be used to refer to parts of the meal. It would also be possible to use indefinite articles here:

She cuts vegetables and tosses a salad.

  • My concept of differentiating between count and mass noun is either we can put numbers behind the noun or not like pizza can be 1, 2, 3 and chicken can be 1,2,3..... Did you mean that If we do not use any article before any countable noun then it means we consider that this noun is a mass noun...e.g. Mitchell is a nice girl but it can be written as Mitchell is nice girl. Jan 23, 2016 at 5:28
  • No, You can't make just any noun a mass noun, but there are many which can. Words which denote a substance are usually mass nouns: this includes kinds of meat - "We had beef, chicken, and lamb". In some of those cases the word is also used for the animal, in which case it is a count noun: "There were chickens and lambs in the farmyard". Some other kinds of foods can also be treated as quasi-substances, and massified: "There was pizza followed by cake", but others can't: I don't think you would hear "We had biscuit/cookie", for example. There aren't rules for this.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 23, 2016 at 11:39

In the examples you give, the items are not specific items, but general cases.

If it is Sunday, he makes a pizza, because on Sundays he makes pizza. After he makes the pizza, he will eat it.

  • 1
    brendinger sorry iam unable to get your point. What you mean specifically. Jan 21, 2016 at 2:02

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