The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

When is a countable noun not preceded by any article Options
A cooperator
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 10:25:33 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,967
Neurons: 11,044
Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Hi Everyone!


I've seen there is no article before "school" or "university".
1- the best listeners are engaged with whatever they are listening to. This could be a lecture at school or a conversation with a friend.
2- funding is key consideration when you think about university.

I know there in English grammar, the term zero article refers to an occasion in speech or writing where a noun or noun phrase is not preceded by an article (a, an, or the). In general, no article is used with proper nouns, mass nouns where the reference is indefinite, or plural count nouns where the reference is indefinite.

Would you be so kind as to give me a brief of When a countable noun is not preceded by any article?

Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 10:38:21 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,685
Neurons: 182,345
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi!

It is similar for institutions, when the reference is indefinite.

"He is at the school at the end of the road." - a specific, definite school.
"He's at school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning".
"If you want to see him, he's working in the garden at the hospital in High Street." - a definite hospital.
"You can't see him till next week. He's in hospital." - The general concept of "being treated medically in a hospital somewhere". It doesn't matter which one. it's enough to know that "he's in hospital".

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
A cooperator
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 11:22:39 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,967
Neurons: 11,044
Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Hi!

It is similar for institutions, when the reference is indefinite.

"He is at the school at the end of the road." - a specific, definite school.
"He's at school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning".
"If you want to see him, he's working in the garden at the hospital in High Street." - a definite hospital.
"You can't see him till next week. He's in hospital." - The general concept of "being treated medically in a hospital somewhere". It doesn't matter which one. it's enough to know that "he's in hospital".


Thanks a lot,
First of all,
You said "It is similar for institutions, when the reference is indefinite."
No confusion is there between "an/a" Vs "the", however the issue is in "a/an" and zero article.

So, I think " a school" or "school" denotes somewhere, but it doesn't matter which one, in "The best listeners are engaged with whatever they are listening to. This could be a lecture at (a) school or a conversation with a friend."

Also, in your example, "a hospital" or "hospital" denotes somewhere, but it doesn't matter which one, in "You can't see him till next week. He's in (a) hospital."

I tend to have a rule helping me master when to use or not to use an article.
In the same concept, I know a rule saying "when the word "home" comes immediately after 'arrive', 'bring', 'come', 'get', 'go', 'send', and 'take', then it functions as an adverb denoting destination. In this case it isn't preceded by any preposition."

So,would you be so kind as to give me a rule of when a countable noun is not preceded by any article?


Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
thar
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 12:00:43 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 18,196
Neurons: 73,900
There are some situations that are so basic to life that there is a special idiom for them. Sort of a linguistic speed dial.

You will understand the idea as you meet them in context, and you just have to realise they are exceptions.
The noun without a article indicates the concept, the idea.

These involve common situations in life.
Or, in the case of being in hospital, an extreme situation but one that is expressed simply and quickly with this structure.
eg
I am at home. (where I live)
I am at work. (Where I earn my livelihood)
I am at school. (at college/university) (Where I receive my education)
I am in hospital (where I am receiving medical treatment overnight or as an emergency)

That is a state, not a location. If I am at work then I can't pick up the shopping you want. If I am at school I can't come and play.

It doesn't even have to be the state you are in right now - it can be where you are in your life.
eg
I am at university means the same as saying 'I am a student'.

'I am still at school', could mean 'I haven't left yet, because I stayed for a sports practice this afternoon'.
Or
'I am still at school' could mean 'I haven't left school yet because I am only fifteen and I won't leave school until I am sixteen.'

These are nothing to do with location - they are about the state you are in.

If you work in an office, then if you are 'at work', it probably means you are in that office. But if you are a lorry driver, then if you are at work you are probably somewhere on the road.

Similarly, if you are in hospital, it means you are a patient receiving treatment in a medical facility. (That is BrE - it is different in AmE where they use the article for that). It could be anywhere - the important thing is that you are ill or injured.


There are those few special cases, where it is the concept of the idea of what you are doing there, that take no article.

If you are in that building (or at that location) for another reason, then these are treated exactly the same as any other noun and take an appropriate article.
eg
I am at the school waiting for my daughter. I am in the hospital waiting for my appointment.
I am at a school in London teaching Arabic.
I am at several schools this week giving workshops on creativity.
NKM
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 5:07:08 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 5,033
Neurons: 283,951
Location: Corinth, New York, United States
A cooperator wrote:


2- funding is key consideration when you think about university.

══════════════════════════════════════════════

In American English: "Funding is a key consideration when you think about college."

(And I believe the article before "key" is necessary in British English, too.)

thar
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 5:17:30 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 18,196
Neurons: 73,900
Yes, in BrE too.

Don't confuse the two forms. It can be used as an adjective.


Adjective + noun
Funding is a key consideration.
Funding is an important consideration.

If the noun should have an article, it goes before the adjective.



adjective
Funding is key.
Funding is important.

No article.


But that sentence (with the change NKM made) is a prime example of how this structure works.
eg
Funding is a key consideration in thinking about university.
This is not a building, it is not even any particular institution. It is the concept of continuing your education and getting a degree.

When you are fifteen or so you think about university.
If you don't want to go to university, you think about work.
(In Britain you can leave school at 16, you can go to college from 16-18 or stay at school from 16-18 - it depends where you live, which school you go to and how your local education authority organises things. It doesn't make a big difference - a lot of the qualifications are the same).
At the end of that you might go to university at 18, or go to a college to do other courses, or start work.)

A cooperator
Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 8:18:52 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,967
Neurons: 11,044
Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Thank you both of you,

Yes, "Funding is a key consideration when thinking about university."
But, in "The best listeners are engaged with whatever they are listening to. This could be a lecture at school or a conversation with a friend.", do you think "school" means like "college", and "university"? So, it has a zero article.

I think " a school" or "school" denotes somewhere, but it doesn't matter which one, in "The best listeners are engaged with whatever they are listening to. This could be a lecture at (a) school or a conversation with a friend."

Also, in Drag0nspeaker's example, "a hospital" or "hospital" denotes somewhere, but it doesn't matter which one, in "You can't see him till next week. He's in (a) hospital."

Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
Y111
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 3:32:00 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/25/2017
Posts: 276
Neurons: 1,364
Location: Kurgan, Kurgan, Russia
A cooperator wrote:
I think " a school" or "school" denotes somewhere, but it doesn't matter which one, in "The best listeners are engaged with whatever they are listening to. This could be a lecture at (a) school or a conversation with a friend."

I think that in some sense it matters because in terms of location "I am at school" obviously means you are at YOUR school, not just A school. Similarly in your example about listeners 'a lecture at school' means one at THEIR school, not just some absolutely indefinite one.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 3:49:08 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,685
Neurons: 182,345
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
A Cooperator wrote:
Also, in Drag0nspeaker's example, "a hospital" or "hospital" denotes somewhere, but it doesn't matter which one. . .


It is not 'normal grammar' - it is an idiom which is very common, but seems 'wrong' according to normal patterns.

"You can't see him till next week. He's in hospital." - He is receiving treatment in a hospital, and is (at least for a day or two) sleeping there.

"You can't see him till next week. He's in a hospital." - His current location is somewhere on the premises of a hospital (he may be working there, or just visiting).
The sentence does not quite make sense.
The fact that he is at a hospital just now (today) does not explain why you can't see him for the next week.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 5:06:06 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 14,763
Neurons: 46,157
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
As for Tertiary education (University) being referred to as "school"?

It's only in AE that this format is used.

So elsewhere 'school' only means school - a place for children.
A cooperator
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 10:34:30 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,967
Neurons: 11,044
Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Romany wrote:
As for Tertiary education (University) being referred to as "school"?

It's only in AE that this format is used.

So elsewhere 'school' only means school - a place for children.


Thanks a lot,
But, NKM, as a native American English speaker, referred to "university" as "college" in the American English, and he didn't refer to "university" as "school", which means "university" (UK English) means "education". On the other hand, "college" means "education" in (US English). However, "school" in both the US, UK English means "school" - a place for children.



In American English: "Funding is a key consideration when you think about college."

I found it in the UK English as follows: "Funding is a key consideration when you think about university."


But, as long as "University", in UK English, and "college", in US English, mean "education", why do we not say "she received an excellent education/ university/college."
"The standard of education/university/college has declined in this country."

Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 12:17:31 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,685
Neurons: 182,345
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
"College" means "College" in Britain. It does not mean 'education'. "Education" is an action but 'college' is a place.

One can go to school till one is sixteen, then college foe a couple of years, or more.
Then maybe - or maybe not - one can go to university.
One can also go to college as an adult. I went to college and did a course in 2010, when I was sixty.
It should also be noted that some universities are split into colleges - these are similar to departments, I suppose. One is still 'at university', not 'at college'.
King's College Cambridge
Caius College Cambridge
Balliol College Oxford
Christ Church College Oxford

***********
In the USA, "College" means "college" or "university" - and sometimes "school" means "college" or "university".
"College", "school" and "University" do NOT mean "education".

One may go to school until one is eighteen, then to university. But it could be said "He's still at school". Or it might be said "He's at college."

There are two different naming-systems - American and English (There are also others - Scottish, Australian . . .whatever).
Probably, each one of these will have different ways to say things - choices.
Like, if you have graduated to University in the USA, you might choose to say "I'm at college" or even "I'm still at school" - but you cannot choose to call it school in the UK.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 1:07:23 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/2/2009
Posts: 5,232
Neurons: 63,618
Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
A cooperator wrote:
Romany wrote:
As for Tertiary education (University) being referred to as "school"?

It's only in AE that this format is used.

So elsewhere 'school' only means school - a place for children.


Thanks a lot,
But, NKM, as a native American English speaker, referred to "university" as "college" in the American English, and he didn't refer to "university" as "school", which means "university" (UK English) means "education". On the other hand, "college" means "education" in (US English). However, "school" in both the US, UK English means "school" - a place for children.



In American English: "Funding is a key consideration when you think about college."

I found it in the UK English as follows: "Funding is a key consideration when you think about university."


But, as long as "University", in UK English, and "college", in US English, mean "education", why do we not say "she received an excellent education/ university/college."
"The standard of education/university/college has declined in this country."

This is simply a difference in word choice between AE and BE. In speaking of post-secondary (tertiary) education without reference to any specific institution, AE uses "college" and BE uses "university".

In the US educational system, there is a difference between a university and a college, but both grant tertiary degrees starting at the Bachelor degree level. (We shall omit junior or community colleges as something a bit different.)

A college may be a stand-alone institution, or a part of a university. A university will be composed of divisions which are called--depending upon the university--"schools" or "colleges". There is no difference in the function, just terminology. In the US, at least, schools/colleges within a university are by area of study: school/college of fine arts; school/college of engineering; school/college of mathematics.

Stand-alone colleges are usually smaller institutions. They universally grant Bachelor degrees. (Again, this does not include junior or community colleges.) They may grant advanced degrees, usually only to Master degree level, though in particular I believe religious colleges often grant some form of Doctor of Divinity. When colleges grant advanced degrees, it will be in only one or a couple of areas of study and, as before, often only to Master degree level. A college is divided into "departments" rather than "schools". Faculty are primarily focused on teaching. Individual faculty members may pursue original research, but this is not generally an institutional goal.

Universities (being composed of many colleges/schools) are usually considerably larger institutions. This has been somewhat corrupted in recent decades where, particularly in the case of public colleges/universities (i.e. those part of a state--meaning one of the fifty states, not federal--system of higher education), where it seems every institution has become a university. In the case of smaller "universities", advanced degrees are still usually limited to only a few subjects. The primary change, and the issue other than size differentiating university and college, is that there is a greater institutional focus on original research. This has always been a part of the mission of a university. One (rather cynically) suspects the impetus for this change has been the involvement of the institutions themselves in ownership of patents granted in the case of results from applied research--and, of course, the receipt of a portion of any income from said patents. In my opinion, this subverts the original purpose of university research, which was investigation into the unknown. But that's another topic.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 1:09:36 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 14,763
Neurons: 46,157
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Drago - nope. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and even places where English is not the first language but the lingua franca....do not refer to Uni as school or as College.(Tho perhaps Canada does, due to them living on the same continent as America.) In fact the Human Resources person at one place I was at had spent a couple of years turning down applicants whose cover letters cited "Four years College" or "Four years at school in Washington"; because she thought that meant they didn't have University degrees!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 1:27:03 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,685
Neurons: 182,345
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi Romany - thanks - so the old Commonwealth and connections still follow the UK forms!

Hello Ruth. That's interesting.

I think that the rules have changed over the past twenty-thirty years since I really had anything to do with it.
Back then it used to be:
School - up to sixteen years old, you earned 'Ordinary Level' school certs (five or six was OK) most grammar-school kids took seven or eight subjects.
"Sixth Form" at school - an extra two years studying specialist subjects and taking three or so "Advanced Level" exams. Up to eighteen years old.

Prep College
- After finishing school at sixteen, to do "University entrance" qualifications for two years.

College - for anyone after they finish school - age seventeen to one hundred.
Does not do degrees - Ordinary National Cert (in engineering, electronics, mechanics and similar), Higher National Diploma, and similar courses. Higher level than "A-Level", but less than a degree.
One can do some of these courses over a longer period part time at 'night school'.

University - for degrees from Bachelor to the top.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
A cooperator
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 6:41:58 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,967
Neurons: 11,044
Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Thank you all of you very much indeed,

Drag0nspeaker wrote:

It should also be noted that some universities are split into colleges - these are similar to departments, I suppose. One is still 'at university', not 'at college'.
King's College Cambridge
Caius College Cambridge
Balliol College Oxford
Christ Church College Oxford



However, since then

RuthP wrote:
A college is divided into "departments" rather than "schools". Faculty are primarily focused on teaching. Individual faculty members may pursue original research, but this is not generally an institutional goal.


Here in my country, we can use either 'a college' or 'a faculty' for the same building (Faculty/College of Engineering). So, College/faculty is divided into "departments" rather than "schools". And a university is composed of many colleges.
We only can call 'school' for a 'primary school' and 'secondary school'.


I was expecting in the UK, and US, universities are being composed of many colleges, where 'colleges' can be named 'schools/faculties'. And 'colleges'/'schools/faculties' are being composed of many departments.
However, having looked at the website of the University of Glasgow, I found out the following colleges below, each of which is composed of many schools, and no departments are shown at all.

1- College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences:-
School of Life Sciences
Dental School
School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
School of Veterinary Medicine


2- College of Science & Engineering: The College is made up of 7 academic schools:-
School of Chemistry
School of Computing Science
School of Engineering
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
School of Mathematics & Statistics
School of Physics & Astronomy
School of Psychology

3- College of Social Sciences:-
Adam Smith Business School
School of Education
School of Interdisciplinary Studies
School of Law
School of Social & Political Sciences

4- College of Arts:-
School of Critical Studies
School of Culture & Creative Arts
School of Humanities | Sgoil nan Daonnachdan
School of Modern Languages & Cultures




As a result, I think even in the UK, universities can be composed of many colleges, which are composed of many schools.


Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
A cooperator
Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2018 1:48:36 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,967
Neurons: 11,044
Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Hi!

It is similar for institutions, when the reference is indefinite.

"He is at the school at the end of the road." - a specific, definite school.
"He's at school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning".


Drag0nspeaker,

As you said two, but you left one since the article are in three ways: the defining one (the), non-defining one (a, an) and zero article.
He is at the school at the end of the road."[/b][/color] - a specific, definite school.
He's at a school right now."[/b] - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning"
"He's at school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning".


Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
A cooperator
Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2018 1:50:30 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,967
Neurons: 11,044
Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Hi!

It is similar for institutions, when the reference is indefinite.

"He is at the school at the end of the road." - a specific, definite school.
"He's at school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning".
"If you want to see him, he's working in the garden at the hospital in High Street." - a definite hospital.
"You can't see him till next week. He's in hospital." - The general concept of "being treated medically in a hospital somewhere". It doesn't matter which one. it's enough to know that "he's in hospital".


Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Hi!

It is similar for institutions, when the reference is indefinite.

"He is at the school at the end of the road." - a specific, definite school.
"He's at school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning".


Drag0nspeaker,

As you said two, but you left one since the article are in three ways: the defining one (the), non-defining one (a, an) and zero article.
He is at the school at the end of the road." - a specific, definite school.
He's at a school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning"[/b]
"He's at school right now." - the indefinite concept of "a place of learning".


Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.

Main Forum RSS : RSS
Forum Terms and Guidelines | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2008-2018 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.