How to use the Zero article in English
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In English, it is sometimes not necessary to put an article a,an or the in front of certain names.
(NOTE: some English teachers use the Ø symbol in their lesson to show when not to put an article)
Articles are not used in the following cases:
Talk about generalities, general truths, or give your opinion
(you will notice that all names are in the plural)
- I hate cakes. (we’re talking about cakes in general)
- I love music.
- I like chocolate.
- Planes travel faster than cars.
- Japanese is the language spoken in Japan.
- I think history is boring.
- Sharks are dangerous animals.
- Love is a good thing.
- War is terrible.
- Steel is very strong.
- Red is my favorite color.
- This table is made of glass.
- This bridge is made of steel.
Meals, food and beverages
- I have coffee for breakfast.
- In Spain, dinner is served at 10pm.
The place, the direction
- to go to work
- I go to church every sunday
- to get home
- to be in bed
- to go into hospital
- from left to right
- go to university
- go to church
⚠️ we say: to go to the toilet
⚠️ Do not mistake:
- She goes to school every day. (The school as an institution, in the general sense)
- She lives next to the school. (a particular school)
- I like English.
- She can speak Japanese.
- He plays football.
- I like tennis.
Continents, countries, streets, mountains and lakes (singular)
- I’m visiting Italy next month.
- Lake Michigan
- Grafton Street
- Mount Everest
⚠️ We use the with some names of countries, rivers, islands and seas (the USA, the UK, the Netherlands, the British Isles…)
Before the titles (functions, status) followed by the person’s name
- Doctor Parker
- Queen Elizabeth
- Prince William
- King Louis XV
- President Sarkozy
Ex: President Trump has visited a museum in Paris.
In front of the days, the months
- Sarah goes to the swimming pool on Tuesday.
- August is usually very hot.
- I love Fridays.
Time and weather
- It’s spring !
- at night
- Next year I’m going to Sri Lanka (not: the next year)
⚠️but we say: in the evening