How to use the Zero article in English

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.

Abstract names

  • Love is a good thing.
  • War is terrible.

Colors

  • Steel is very strong.
  • Red is my favorite color.

Materials

  • 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)

Languages

  • I like English.
  • She can speak Japanese.

Activities

  • He plays football.
  • I like tennis.

Continents, countries, streets, mountains and lakes (singular)

  • Africa
  • 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 




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