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    #1

    Why Zero Article?

    I have been confounded by the use and non-use of the definite article. The words in parenthesis in the below sentences are inserted by me. For these, I would like to know if it is possible to add the definite article in front of the nouns, and for what reasons if not.
    Thank you for your help.

    "It will not have been in vain if it raises (the) awareness that light pollution can waste energy and increase air pollution."

    "But to leverage the likely ascent of China as a technology-driven economy, it would make sense to reserve room for open and flexible "knowledge factories" that will cater for the knowledge-based economy of the future rather than remain hostage to (the) past glory (of Hong Kong- "implied")."

    "As in (the) past years (of July 1 demonstrations - "implied"), teams of protest organisers will be deployed to observe the march and estimate the turnout."
    Last edited by Deepurple; 22-Jun-2009 at 04:49.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Why Zero Article?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    I have been confounded by the use and non-use of the definite article. The words in parenthesis in the below sentences are inserted by me. For these, I would like to know if it is possible to add the definite article in front of the nouns, and for what reasons if not.
    Thank you for your help.

    "It will not have been in vain if it raises (the) awareness that light pollution can waste energy and increase air pollution."

    "But to leverage the likely ascent of China as a technology-driven economy, it would make sense to reserve room for open and flexible "knowledge factories" that will cater for the knowledge-based economy of the future rather than remain hostage to (the) past glory (of Hong Kong- "implied")."

    "As in (the) past years (of July 1 demonstrations - "implied"), teams of protest organisers will be deployed to observe the march and estimate the turnout."
    You know that we speak of love, happiness, beauty and other abstractions without the definite article; and glory and awareness are similar abstractions.
    Concerning 'years', "the past years" invites the question "Which past years?" The author doesn't want to be this specific. If he did, he would write "In the past seven years ...", for example.

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    #3

    Re: Why Zero Article?

    I've wondered about that too. Here's what I think, I don't have a textbook on it.

    I see you live in Wonderland. Is it nice there?
    In Wonderland do the cows have spots or stripes?

    Why not write:* In the Wonderland do the cows have the spots or the stripes?

    Consider the money, all money
    The cakes, all cakes
    The girls, all girls.

    The girls is a specific subset of girls, the set of all girls. The cakes is a subset of cakes. The money is a subset of money.
    The money is in the bag. The cakes are on the table. The girls are out shopping (stereotypes!). The determiner ‘the’ refers to a specific subset of the set of all objects of one kind. You can do things with a subset.

    In Wonderland. Normally speaking we would expect there to be only one Wonderland. There is no subset to specify, and so no determiner to refer to a subset of Wonderland. You may object: The United States of America. The country is called so, because in the past not all States in what is America (US) were part of the Union. The Gambia was presumably compiled of more than one state, or was split into two or more parts. La France, I presume, was also called so to distinguish it from something else. If there were a competition ‘Be Wonderland for a Year’, and say, England won, (this is a hypothetical scenario) I could announce: And the Wonderland for this year is…,because then The Wonderland is a subset of all possible Wonderlands

    the cows, because from the context it is clear that you are referring to the subset of cows that live in Wonderland.

    have spots : any kind of spots, with no reference to a subset such as big green spots, little red spots.

    Or stripes: any type of stripe. Wide yellow stripes, narrow pink stripes, diagonal undulating purple stripes.

    You answer the question: They have stripes. Then I can ask, ‘Are the stripes cool? You know which subset of stripes I'm talking about now---(the ones on the cows in Wonderland).

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