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    #1

    Use of indefinite articles

    I used to believe that, in general, I should use a singular countable noun with an article. However, reading one book talking about articles, I started to get myself confused whether or not an article should be really omitted (= should not be used) in the cases as follows:

    1. This one smells like old dog. (not "an old dog"?)
    2. It tastes like apple./It tastes something like apple. (not "an apple"?)
    3. You may put pineapple on your pizza.
    4. Add carrot and onion after heating the pan.

    Well, according to the author of this book, he says that "an article is not necessary if the noun specified is not recognized as having its original form."

    As for the above 3 and 4, I kind of understand why "a/an" cannot be used--because we do not mean that we put/add a whole pineapple, carrot, or onion. However, even so, I still have doubts if it is okay to leave the nouns (pineapple/carrot/onion) without any articles or making them plural instead.

    Professional teachers/native speakers, please help me clear this problem.
    Last edited by gorikaz; 30-Apr-2007 at 06:40.

  1. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    Quote Originally Posted by gorikaz View Post
    I used to believe that, in general, I should use a singular countable noun with an article. However, reading one book talking about articles, I started to get myself confused whether or not an article should be really omitted (= should not be used) in the cases as follows:

    1. This one smells like old dog. (not "an old dog"?)
    2. It tastes like apple./It tastes something like apple. (not "an apple"?)
    3. You may put pineapple on your pizza.
    4. Add carrot and onion after heating the pan.

    Well, according to the author of this book, he says that "an article is not necessary if the noun specified is not recognized as having its original form."

    As for the above 3 and 4, I kind of understand why "a/an" cannot be used--because we do not mean that we put/add a whole pineapple, carrot, or onion. However, even so, I still have doubts if it is okay to leave the nouns (pineapple/carrot/onion) without any articles or making them plural instead.

    Professional teachers/native speakers, please help me clear this problem.
    In the first and second examples the author doesn't mean a dog or an apple
    but he pays your attention to the smell of dog and apple in general.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    I agree. They're all fine.

    1. This one smells like old dog.
    => Not an old dog, but how all old dogs smell in general.

    2. It tastes like apple.
    => Not an apple, but how all apples taste in general.

    All the best.

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    #4

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    I see, so in all the examples given, they are all fine without any articles because these nouns do not really mean the real objects themselves (original forms of these nouns). Is my understanding correct?

    Okay, then how about the following cases?

    5. These items are made from horn. (not "a horn" or "horns"?)
    6. This juice is made from apple, orange, and lemon. (not with "a" or plural form of "apples/oranges/lemons"?)

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    Quote Originally Posted by gorikaz View Post
    I see, so in all the examples given, they are all fine without any articles because these nouns do not really mean the real objects themselves (original forms of these nouns). Is my understanding correct?
    Yes. And that's a very clear way of explaining it.

    5. These items are made from horn. (not "a horn" or "horns"?)
    => It doesn't work. Made is not a sensory verb, like smell and taste. Do you see the pattern?

    6. This juice is made from apple, orange, and lemon. (not with "a" or plural form of "apples/oranges/lemons"?)
    => This one could work if you added flavor(s), which would make the nouns apple, orange, and lemon adjectives by function.

    Does that help?

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    #6

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    I am sorry that I would like to revise the example #5 as follows:

    "These buttons are made of horn."

    Q1. Here, is it correct to leave the sentence as above (means not "a horn" or "horns") because we are not talking about the horn itself but "the horn as a material for these buttons"? Or should the sentence be "These buttons are made of horns/a horn"? Which is correct?

    Thank you for your comment and advice for the example #6.
    By the way, apart from adding "flavor(s)" and making the nouns adjectives, can I say "This juice is made from apples, oranges, and lemons" or "This juice is made from an apple, orange, and lemon"?

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #7

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    These buttons are made of horn. <The material has been modified>
    This juice is made from apples, oranges, and lemons.
    This juice is made from an apple, orange, and lemon.

    All the best.

  5. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    These buttons are made of horn. <The material has been modified>
    This juice is made from apples, oranges, and lemons.
    This juice is made from an apple, orange, and lemon.

    All the best.
    Hi, Casiopea!
    I think we can say this juice is made from an apple, an orande and a lemon. I mean to make this juice I took an apple, an orange and a lemon and mixed them to get this juice.

  6. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #9

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Smith View Post
    I think we can say this juice is made from an apple, an orange and a lemon.
    Yes, an, an, and a.

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    #10

    Re: Use of indefinite articles

    Thank you for your great help, Casiopea and Harry!
    By the way, I thought that I could omit the second and third articles in a series like this--"an apple, orange, and lemon"--though it may be informal.

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