Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden

    • Join Date: Sep 2010
    • Posts: 32
    #1

    possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    Academic articles are written under hard word limit restrictions. Acceptance rate can be low, and it is important to be informative in order not to lose in the competition with other submissions. At the same time, the language must be correct as well. So, the challenge is to find ways to be brief, and omitting articles can save many words.

    "The semi-structured interviews were done on a voluntary basis"

    Can 'a' be omitted in this case? If not, why? Is it a matter of style or grammar?
    Last edited by postdeborinite; 01-Sep-2015 at 11:12.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #2

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    It cannot be omitted. It is a matter of grammar.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Malaysia

    • Join Date: Apr 2014
    • Posts: 3,292
    #3

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    The semi-structured interviews were done voluntarily.

    You can change wordings to make your writing short.
    ..to lose in the competition..
    I am not a teacher.

  2. Eckaslike's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Wales

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 574
    #4

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    It cannot be omitted. It is a matter of grammar.
    I totally agree. I am often quite flexible about how people use English, but this is one area where as a native speaker I can instantly tell if someone is not. It actually jars me when the articles are left out, because to first language speakers their omission sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Rather than lose the articles, tedmc's suggestion is a good one; look to tighten up other sections of your sentences, or if necessary restructure and rephrase them in order to reduce the word count.

  3. konungursvia's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 5,158
    #5

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    I more or less agree, but you have to admit that we are almost as redundant as the French in our use of articles. Indian English, for example, does just fine with a lot less of them. In most cases, I can't see any good reason for them, except that they sound 'normal'.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,833
    #6

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    They may not serve much purpose, but academic writing is not the place to start the rebellion. If you used with volunteers, you would save two words, be grammatical and lose little in the way of meaning. They would have to volunteer if it is done on a voluntary basis. There are certainly better ways of saving words than breaking grammar rules.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 9,938
    #7

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    In most cases, I can't see any good reason for them, except that they sound 'normal'.
    I tell my learners that it is better to sound normal than logical but not normal/natural.

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,215
    #8

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by postdeborinite View Post
    Academic articles are written under hard word limit restrictions. Acceptance rate can be low, and it is important to be informative in order not to lose in the competition with other submissions. At the same time, the language must be correct as well. So, the challenge is to find ways to be brief, and omitting articles can save many words.
    If this is a sample of your writing, it can be a LOT tighter. 60 words.

    Academic articles have hard limits on word count. To be among the few accepted, it is important to be informative and use correct language. Being concise can be challenging; omitting articles could save many words. 35 words.

    You need an editor.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden

    • Join Date: Sep 2010
    • Posts: 32
    #9

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    haha, Barb. I will hire you next time I write a forum post. I can write tighter, but it takes time.

    Anyway, the feedback from native speakers above has been very helpful - this is the kind of feedback that is hard to come by for us non-natives.

  6. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,822
    #10

    Re: possible to omit indefinite articles in academic writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by postdeborinite View Post
    I can write tighter, but it takes time.
    Doing anything well usually takes time. Whether you think taking that time is worth it is entirely up to you.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. A and an are the indefinite articles. Can I omit it?
    By anhnha in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 20-Jan-2013, 19:35
  2. [Grammar] articles ! - can I omit them here?
    By marker in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-Jun-2011, 20:55
  3. [Grammar] When do you get to omit articles?
    By vcolts in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Nov-2009, 03:33
  4. Use of indefinite articles
    By gorikaz in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 01-May-2007, 05:11
  5. Indefinite Articles
    By Fazzu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 12-Sep-2006, 13:59

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •