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Articles: special rules and exceptions

Articles are often dropped in double expressions, particularly with prepositions. Examples are:

With knife and fork (NOT With a knife and a fork) (NOT With a knife and fork)
Husband and wife (NOT a husband and a wife)
From top to bottom (NOT From the top to the bottom)
Inch by inch
On land and sea

Note that articles are not usually dropped when singular nouns follow prepositions.

You canít get there without a car. (NOT You canít get there without car.)

Both and all

The definite article the is often dropped after both.

Both children are good at singing.
OR Both the children are good at singing.

And we often leave out the between all and a number.

You can take all the three shirts.
OR You can take all three shirts.

Kind of

The article a/an is usually dropped after kind of, sort of, type of and similar expressions.

What kind of person is she? (NOT What kind of a person is she?)
What sort of bird is that?

Exclamations

We use a/an with singular countable nouns in exclamations after what.

What a pretty girl! (NOT What pretty girl!)
What a sweet song!

Note that a/an cannot be used with uncountable nouns.

What nonsense! (NOT What a nonsense!)

Place names

Articles are used with the names of:

Seas (the Pacific, the Atlantic)
Mountains (the Alps, the Himalayas)
Island groups (the West Indies)
Rivers (the Nile, the Amazon, the Thames)
Deserts (the Sahara, the Atacama)

We usually use no article with the names of continents, countries, states, departments etc. Examples are: Asia, India, France, Texas, Beijing etc.

Exceptions

We say: the Peopleís Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, the Hague

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Sections in this article

Introduction to Articles
The Definite Article
Cases where the definite article should not be used
The Indefinite Article
Cases where articles should not be used
What to use - A/an or the
The difference between some/any and no article
Common expressions without articles
Articles: special rules and exceptions

 

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