Absent Article

Teachers and learners of English as a foreign language will have gone through all those steps of establishing whether a noun is to be preceded by the definite article, the indefinite article or by the zero article. See here for one way of working it out. However, there is at least one exception which appears to sit outside the system. There are two words, which are sometimes found without the definite article where it might have been expected.

British political parties have annual conferences. When speakers address them, they don’t say, ‘I recommend to the conference . . .’ or even ‘I recommend to this conference . . .’. They say ‘I recommend to conference . . .’ The other word is ‘counsel’, meaning a barrister. It’s always ‘counsel for the defence’ and not ‘the counsel for the defence’, ‘in the opinion of counsel’ and not ‘in the opinion of the counsel’. I’ve no idea why this should be so. Does anyone know?

More here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s