In general, a singular common noun is always preceded by an article - a, an, or the.

Applying the same rule in the following sentence, we get

1) He is good at the word prediction.

I precede word with the since word is singular common noun. However, I am not referring to a specific word, like in sentence

2) He is good at the hidden word prediction.

Hence, I feel in sentence 1, preceding word with the doesn't sound proper, and I expect sentence 1 to be in the following form.

3) He is good at word prediction.

But, with sentence 3, I break the rule by not preceding a singular common noun --word-- with an article.

Please elaborate if 1 or 3 is correct (or both)? Why?


  • word prediction is an activity, not a thing. So no article is used. BTW 1 is not correct. You can't judge by "word", since it is a modifier.
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


Your ear is right. 1 is incorrect.
'The' should not be used in that case. If you put 'the' in front of 'word' in the first sentence, it is not referring to the singular noun 'word', it is referring to 'word prediction'. 'Word' in this sentence is an adjective modifying 'prediction'.

2 is correct, though it is a less common usage. It works without 'the' in the same way that 1 does not need 'the'. With 'the' it distinguishes 'hidden word prediction' from other kinds of 'word prediction' that might be present in this context.

3 is correct. Here's one way to tell.

He is good at word prediction.

means the same thing as

He is good at predicting words.

Update:Modified my answer to reflect points @Flair brought up in comments.

  • But this doesn't explain why you couldn't say "He is good at predicting the words."
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 3:19
  • @Tofystedeth Thanks, your explanation is good. word in sentence 1 and 3 function as adjective , hence article the is inappropriate. However, the use of the in sentence 2 is not wrong. hidden word contextualizes prediction (common noun). Hence, you are taking about a specific type of prediction. so use of definite article the is appropriate in sentence 2.
    – Sky
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 6:38
  • @user3169 "He is good at predicting the words." is acceptable. By the words you are referring to specific set of words that the reader is already aware of. (may be spanish words).
    – Sky
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 6:41
  • @Flair You're right, it is correct to use, but less common, as it changes the implied meaning to be more specific. I'll update my answer. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 14:28
  • @Flair I wasn't saying you couldn't say it, just that this answer implied you shouldn't/couldn't.
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 15:58

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