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Nouns used without a determiner - Easy Learning Grammar

Certain noun phrases do not have a determiner at all.We usually leave out the determiner when we use a noun or a noun phrase in the plural to make a generalization.
  • He sells cars for a living.
  • Tigers are nearing extinction.
  • Onions are good for you.
  • Grassy hills rise on all sides of the town.
Singular nouns that are uncountable are used without a determiner when you are making a general reference.
  • New information is now available.
  • Do you like jelly?
  • This shop sells furniture.
  • This is particularly true when the uncountable noun is used for the first time in a general way in the course of a conversation or piece of writing. They can be used with a determiner when the reference becomes specific. For example, you can ask someone if they like cake as a rule, and then ask the person if she would like some of your cake.
  • The information she gave me was inaccurate.
  • Would you like some of the jelly I made for the party?
  • We don’t let the dog climb onto the furniture.
There are a number of idiomatic expressions that usually omit a determiner. Examples are expressions that refer to:
  • travel, when you proceed by: bicycle, car, bus, train, ship, boat, plane.
  • Anna went by bicycle but Lucy went by car.
  • He was chased by police on foot.
  • time with the prepositions at, before, or by, dawn, sunrise, sunset, noon, midnight, night, supper, dinner, day, night.
  • Catherine rose at dawn and went to bed at sunset.
  • We swam in the pool by day and partied by night.
  • meals: to have breakfast, tea, lunch.
  • Jane had breakfast at home.
  • She met Diana for lunch.
  • institutions, with the prepositions to or at: church, hospital, prison, school, work.
  • John was taken to hospital with a broken ankle.
  • Lucy has been kept late at school today.
  • Ruth was at home all day.
  • seasons of the year, when you are generalizing, e.g: in spring, in summer, in autumn, in winter.
  • In autumn, the grapes are harvested by hand.
  • The place is packed in summer.
However, all of these words are used with the definite article when you are talking about a specific time, place, season, etc.
  • Philip travelled by the same train as Mehandra.
  • Just look at the wonderful sunset.
  • Pam works at the hospital.
  • I can’t work well in the summer.

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