37 votes

"I don't have the time to cook" or "I don't have time to cook"?

Both are fine and seem to be widely used. To me, "don't have the time" implies a long-term situation, whereas "don't have time" could be more temporary. For example, "My life is so busy that I don't ...
31 votes

Is the rule of when to add the articles: (a, the, no article) before a noun, too flexible in English?

Because he is using pavement as an uncountable noun, denoting a substance. In my experience this is not a common use, but I suspect that that is my British English background: in British English, ...
  • 66.8k
29 votes

"She speaks an impeccable English" vs "She speaks impeccable English"

Some words and phrases in English can be either countable or uncountable. The difference in meaning between the two is often subtle. Sometimes the difference can shift us from a general concept to a ...
  • 57.8k
28 votes

"He gave the order to abandon ship." - why no article?

The very brief answer is that "abandon ship" is an idiom, a stock phrase. There also seems to be a convention that orders of a military or quasi-military nature tend to be succinct, e.g., "Cease fire" ...
  • 30.4k
26 votes
Accepted

“The,” or no article: “All _____ time.”

"Of all time" means, essentially, ever. "The best artists of all time" means the best artists of any time, across all time, ever. This gets rephrased as "all time best", or "all-time best", but that ...
  • 22.4k
25 votes

(The?) Lions in the zoo are very aggressive

Lions in the zoo are very aggressive Can be paraphrased: When lions are put in a zoo they become aggressive. You are stating a general fact about lions in zoos everywhere. "in the zoo" need not ...
25 votes
Accepted

A or no article? “He is_____ racist.”

Like so many other words in English (antique, chief, expert, orange, phony, suspect, etc.), "racist" works as both a noun and an adjective. He is racist. (adjective) He is a racist. (noun) ...
  • 87.2k
24 votes
Accepted

Why is there the indefinite article in: “a Victorian 23 knots”?

A Victorian 23 knots means "23 knots, which is a speed you would have expected in the Victorian era"—that is, during the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901.
22 votes
Accepted

Is Vietnamese a noun or an adjective?

The ODO says Vietnamese ADJECTIVE Relating to Vietnam, its people, or their language. ‘He liked Asian people, Vietnamese people in particular, and their culture, considerably more than he ...
  • 45.1k
20 votes

Why do we not use the definite article in "Where can I find the room 401?"

The other answers may actually say this, but they are long and convoluted, and I don't see this in either of them.  So I'll just say it: You don't use an article when you're using a name. Cases ...
18 votes
Accepted

Why is the `the` determiner missing before the word camp?

For historical reasons, some words for places don't always require an article. "Camp" is one of those words. All of these are correct, for instance: My father is at church. Joe got sent ...
  • 20.8k
17 votes

"She speaks an impeccable English" vs "She speaks impeccable English"

I'm not going to tell you in absolute terms that #1 is never a valid sentence but I can still tell you that they are not going to mean the same thing. It is not the case that the first one is "more ...
  • 763
16 votes

"She speaks an impeccable English" vs "She speaks impeccable English"

The other answers are baffling me. As a native speaker of American English, #1 sounds absolutely wrong. You don't speak "an English", so you can't speak "an impeccable English". You speak "English"...
  • 2,688
16 votes

(The?) Lions in the zoo are very aggressive

Because you are talking about the lions in the NY zoo, you should use the article. (Otherwise, your sentence makes it sound like you are talking about all lions at all zoos.) As for the accounting ...
  • 108k
14 votes
Accepted

Why do we not use the definite article in "Where can I find the room 401?"

This answer addresses the two questions at the bottom of the body of your question, but only tentatively addresses the question in your title. The grammatical construct where the article is missing ...
  • 5,806
14 votes

"... is called Minkowski space" or "is called the Minkowski space" and WHY?

There is a shade of meaning. Minkowski space is a mathematical entity that can be studied and applied to several different cases, but there is one specific case which stands out, as this entity ...
13 votes

Why do we not use the definite article in "Where can I find the room 401?"

I've leafed through Quirk et al.'s "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language". In the Note to Unit 17.88 they say this: Postposed numerals and letters perhaps imply the ellipsis of ...
  • 36.3k
13 votes

A or no article? “He is_____ racist.”

Both are grammatically correct, and the difference is just about what nuance the author wants the sentence to have. They do have slightly different meanings, however. A racist is a person who is ...
  • 1,343
12 votes
Accepted

Is the begining of the sentence with the zero article correct?

No, you can't. If you're talking about video baby monitors in general, you can say: A video baby monitor is also great for prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or Video baby monitors ...
  • 22.5k
12 votes
Accepted

"What was best" vs "what was the best"?

In your context, the best relates to {something}, whereas best relates to a course of action. Plastic, wood, or metal container? What was the best choice for this purpose? Plastic, wood, or ...
11 votes
Accepted

'I am man' or 'I am a man'?

Can I say "I am man"? An interesting question. The answer is "in the majority of cases, no! In a poem or in a song or in other such context, yes, sometimes". 'Man' as Generic Noun Phrase When ...
  • 36.3k
11 votes
Accepted

"I was reading posts there" vs. "I was reading the posts there"

Implied reference If your intended audience doesn't know that History Stack Exchange contains "posts", then you should omit the article. By omitting it, you are implicitly saying "I don't expect you ...
  • 27.4k
11 votes

Why is there no article in "We are Family"?

Family as used in the title is an uncountable noun. We don't use articles (a/the) to introduce such nouns. Family can be countable or uncountable. We need to be careful when thinking about the ...
  • 9,919
11 votes
Accepted

My brother has turned writer VS. My brother has turned a writer

The only possible correct option is the blank: My brother has turned writer. It isn't particularly idiomatic, but the other options are just wrong. We do say that someone "turned [occupation]&...
  • 76.8k
10 votes

(The?) Lions in the zoo are very aggressive

There's some subtle difference. If we're excited to go, but you cautiously say: Lions in the zoo are very aggressive. This sounds more general. I would get the idea that something about being in ...
10 votes

Are all article combinations valid patterns for "the" ɴᴏᴜɴ of "the" ɴᴏᴜɴ?

Examples 1 thru 3 at least are grammatically valid. I am dubious about 4 in this specific case. However, they do not all mean the same thing, nor will the answers be the same for all possible nouns. ...
  • 35.9k
9 votes

When can an article be omitted?

The examples given by the original poster are written instructions, where a kind of "telegraph-ese" style is employed for the sake of brevity. That style does not reflect natural spoken idiom. Place ...

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