1. I finished writing a report last night.
  2. His hobby is writing poems.

Why in number 2 is an article not used before the word "poems"? Is it because "poems" is plural? If so, why then don't we use "the" before it since "the" is the plural definite article?

  1. His hobby is writing the poems.

When do and when don't we use articles before nouns? Or do we always have to use articles before nouns?


In the sentence

His hobby is writing the poems

the article the changes the meaning and adds ambiguity.



The poems

imply two different things. In the second case, the refers to specific poems. What those poems are is anybody's guess. To avoid this kind of ambiguity, the sentence should be generalized:

His hobby is writing poems

Where the hobby is the general act of writing poems.

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We don't use an article when talking about things in general. This is called the Zero Article.

In your example he is writing poems in general, so no article is needed.

His hobby is writing poems.

If he's writing some specific poems then an article is needed.

His hobby is writing the poems for our annual Christmas show.

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  • Thanks ssav. Is there any condition to use zero article beside things in general? – Chair Evania Mar 7 '16 at 11:23
  • The linked article lists the other conditions when zero articles are used and has lots of examples. Proper nouns like names are probably the most common. – ssav Mar 7 '16 at 12:04

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