English Grammar: 5 Instances When You Don’t Use Articles to Modify Nouns

Learning English involves memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules. You need to combine these two beautifully to communicate your ideas better. And one basic grammar rule you should master is using “articles” in your sentences.


What are Articles?

So what are articles? Articles are adjectives that modify nouns to be either specific or unspecific. There are two types of articles. It’s “the” and “a/an.”

The article “the” signifies that a noun is specific. It’s also called the definite article because it points to that exact noun. For example:

  • “While playing, Leroy chased the ball and got it.”
  • “Samantha drank the juice from the pitcher.”
  • The airport is packed with passengers.”

On the other side, the article a/an signifies that a noun is non-specific. It’s also known as the indefinite article because it doesn’t point out any particular type of that noun. It’s showing that the noun used in the sentence is generic. For example:

  • “Leroy is looking for a ball to play with.”
  • “Samantha’s mom asked her for a pitcher for the juice.”
  • “While checking in, we saw a fluffy police dog roaming around the airport.”

Check out this link for the basic guide.


Confusion in Using Articles

Simple, right? You just need to know the writer’s intention based on the context of the things you’re reading. In the case of writing, you should identify what you want to pertain.

If you want to pertain to something specific, you use “the.” When it’s for something non-specific, you use “a/an.”

But did you know, not all nouns need articles? Yes, it’s quite confusing. Here are 5 instances when you don’t use articles to modify nouns.


Uncountable Nouns

Some nouns represent something that can’t be counted by an ordinary person without using any form of device. For example, sand can’t be calculated. Water can’t be counted.

In this way, using indefinite articles is not necessary to show that you pertain to something non-specific. For example:

“Please include a rice in the meal.”

The use of the article “a” is not necessary for this sentence because rice is uncountable. You can omit the “a” and just say, “please include rice in the meal.”

“The video needs a light to look better.”

Again, the sentence above doesn’t need the article “a.” You can omit the article and just say, “The video needs light to look better.”


Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns denote an idea, state, or quality. It doesn’t refer to something concrete and tangible. Examples of these nouns are “love,” “anger,” “birthday,” etc. Here are some cases:

“I need a love from you.”

Similar to uncountable nouns, you can’t really quantify love because it’s an abstract concept. So you don’t need the article “a” for the sentence. Check this article out for more examples.


Languages, Nationalities, and Countries

Another exemption is languages, nationalities, and countries. You don’t need to include articles to pertain to them. For example:

  • “I can speak the Mandarin.”
  • “Are you from the Singapore?”
  • “I am learning the English during my spare time.”

As you can see, it doesn’t sound so well. But note that there are exemptions for some countries and places where you need to use “the” to pertain to them. These are for the following.

Countries with Plural names

  • The Philippines
  • The Netherlands
  • The Cook Islands
  • The Seychelles
  • The Solomon Islands
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

One exception is “the Gambia” where you still need “the” to modify it.

Countries that contains a noun that describe the kind of state

  • The Dominican Republic
  • The United States of America
  • The United Kingdom
  • The Czech Republic

As you can see, the following countries contain nouns that describe the type of state. For example, we use “the” in “The Czech Republic” because the word “republic” shows the type of state that they have.


Sports & Academic Subjects

You also don’t need to use articles for Sports and academic subjects. For example:

  • “I am trying to learn the basketball.”
  • The math is hard, especially the fractions.”

It’s similar to abstract nouns above. You can’t really touch sports (the term itself) and academic subjects. That’s why you don’t need articles to modify it.


Still Confused? You Can Get Help!

It’s pretty confusing, right? To tell you honestly, I also make mistakes with the article rules. But as long as it’s not a test, you can always use technology to your advantage! You can use Grammarly to find these simple mistakes.

Grammarly can easily detect proper article use with just a click. With it, you can learn next time when you encounter the words again.

Another way to practice is with the help of an expert English Tutor! With LingualBox, you can have 1-on-1 sessions with certified English tutors to help you in your English learning regardless of your skill level. And slots are as low as $2!

With that, have fun using articles to enhance your English communication!


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Miko Eclipse is a digital nomad writer who travels the world while working online! He likes to meet new people, experience the culture, and gobble on the best food the country has to offer. English is his 2nd language for travel. And it can be yours as well by reading our weekly updates on our blog!