Where articles are not used?
The usage of articles is one of the most confusing things to remember for many English learners. It is not always necessary to use articles everywhere. Our tip is to remember the cases where articles should not be used.
Do not use articles:
Ø When you talk about things in general.
For example: I like birds.
Here, the speaker wants to imply that he/she likes any bird in general, and not a specific type of a bird.
Ø When talking about plural count nouns.
For example: Dogs make great pets.
Here, you are not talking about one specific dog or one specific pet; you are talking about all dogs in general.
Ø When talking about non-count nouns.
For example: I love music.
Here, the speaker is saying that he enjoys music, in general – not any specific kind of music or song.
Ø When talking about specific days or holidays, geography, companies, languages.
For example: I have bought candles for Diwali.
Here, the speaker is talking about the candles he has bought to use on the day of Diwali.
Ø When talking about Geography.
Articles are not used before countries, states, cities, towns, continents, single lakes, single mountains, etc.
For example: I live in Canada.
Mt. Rosa is part of the Alps mountain range.
Here, Mt. Rosa is one mountain, whereas The Alps refer to a group of mountains.
The United Arab Emirates, The Russian Federation", The People's Republic of China, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, The Dominion of Canada, etc., all contain articles because of the usage of common nouns such as kingdom, republic, states, united, dominion, emirates, etc.
The Netherlands, the Philippines, The Bahamas, The Maldives, etc. have ‘the’ before them due to the plural nature of the names of the countries.
The Ukraine, the Sudan, etc. are exceptions to all of these rules. It is perhaps, due to common use, or at least previous common use. There have been historical uses of articles before names of countries that don't fit into either category.
Ø When you talk about companies.
For example: Steve Jobs founded Apple.
I use Facebook every day.
Here, the speaker is referring to companies like Apple and Facebook.
Ø When you talk about languages.
For example: I speak Hindi.
Here, the speaker is talking about the language Hindi.
Ø When you talk about places, locations, streets.
For example: My house is located on Callowhill Drive.
I left my pen at home.
Here, a street called Callowhill Drive and speaker’s home are being talked about.
However, there are specific places that do need the use an article. For example:
the bank, the hospital, the post office, the airport, the train station, the bus stop, etc.
Ø When you talk about sports and physical activities.
For example: I love to play cricket.
She enjoys dancing.
Here, cricket and dancing is being talked about.
Ø When there is a noun + number
For example: She is staying at the Hilton hotel in room 127.
The train to Montreal leaves from platform 9.
Here, the nouns are followed by numbers; hence, no article is used.
Ø When talking about academic subjects.
For example: I hate attending Mathematics classes.
Here, the mathematic classes are being discussed.
A table to remember when or when not to use Articles
‘A’/ ‘An’ is used
When mentioning something for the first time.
I went for a movie.
When talking about something which belongs to a set of the same thing.
This is a pen.
When talking about someone who belongs to a certain group.
She is an engineer.
When talking about a certain kind of a thing.
I've have made a great movie.
When wanting to say that someone is a certain kind of person.
She is a shy girl.
‘The’ is used
When talking about a particular thing.
The movie that I went for was fantastic.
When talking about something that you are sure of.
I cleared the interview.
When there is only one such thing.
I don’t like to go out in the sun.
No article is used
When talking about
something in general.
Swimming is a great physical activity.
When talking about cities,
countries, streets, sports, etc.
We visited France.
We watched soccer together.