When to Use NO ARTICLE in English with 7 Useful Rules

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

NO ARTICLE!!! Learn when to use NO ARTICLE in English with useful grammar rules and example sentences.

When to Use NO ARTICLE?

1. We usually use no article to talk about things in general.

Examples:

Milk is good for you.

Men are always fond of soccer.

2. We do not use an article when talking about sports and games.

Examples:

Let’s go and play basketball.

Badminton is an indoor game.

He loves to play table tennis.

3. Do not use article before the names of countries unless the name suggests that the country is made up of smaller units or constituent parts.

Examples:

Japan

France

Italy

Bolivia

England

Exceptions:

Use the – the UK (United Kingdom), the USA (United States of America), the Irish Republic… (Kingdom, state, republic and union are nouns, so they need an article.)

4. Do not use article before the name of language.

Examples: We are learning English.

5. Do not use article before the names of railway stations when they are also place names.

6. Do not use article before the names of meals if they refer to the meals generally, as a part of the daily routine.

Examples:

They invited some friends to dinner.

We had beef steak for dinner.

But the must be used when the meal is a particular one, thought of as a social function.

Examples:

The wedding breakfast was held in a beautiful garden.

7. Do not use article before noun + number.

Examples:

You’ll be leaving from Gate 5 on the eastern concourse.

The laboratory is in room 6 on the third floor.

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19 thoughts on “When to Use NO ARTICLE in English with 7 Useful Rules”

    • You asked:
      In the sentence “We had beef steak for dinner” why is there no article before the word “steak”?

      Beef Steak is a generic term for a particular kind of meat.
      If I asked you, “What do you like best, coffee, tea or milk?” I am referring to KINDS of drinks, not specific drinks.

      What would you say?
      A. I like the milk
      B. I like a milk
      C. I like milk

      “C” is correct because we are talking about milk in general.
      We are talking about a noun where the reference is indefinite, therefore no article is needed. Such a case is called THE ZERO ARTICLE.

      Now if you said, “I had the beef steak for dinner”. That would mean you want me to know that you ate the one and only beef steak that you had, or that particular dish at a restaurant.

      Hope that helps

      Reply
    • You asked – “Why do we use an article with a noun?”

      Sometimes we do, sometimes we do not.

      An article is basically an adjective because it is describing the noun – either generically (a/an) or specifically (the).
      When we do not use a noun (AKA: the zero article / zero determiner) because we are talking about a noun where the reference is indefinite. Such as: The meat is shipped by plane. Notice there is no article in front of “plane”. Why? Because the focus is not on the plane and a generic form of transportation is being used. Again: The meat is shipped by train/truck/helicopter – same thing.

      Another example of indefinite reference are certain diseases.
      Example – “cancer” is a noun. Which is correct?
      A. He has a cancer
      B. He has the cancer
      C. He has cancer
      Letter C is correct. Cancer is reference to a kind of sickness, so you can say
      He has a disease called cancer.
      He has a sickness called insomnia.

      One more example. If I ask: “Where is your child today?” Which is the correct reply?
      A. My child is in school.
      B. My child is in the school
      C. my child is in a school.

      Answer: Letter A.
      No need for an article – the answer is indefinite – non specific and we all understand what you mean.
      Hope that helps

      Reply
  1. Can somebody help me to clarify what statement ” we don’t use article with general” . What are those general.

    Thank yoy

    Reply
    • when talking about general things facts
      like
      cow eats grass
      goat gives milk.

      we cannot say
      the/a cow eats grass
      the/a goat gives milk

      Reply

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