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The vs zero article Options
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 12:38:12 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/3/2016
Posts: 566
Neurons: 3,214

I was at _____ train station when you called me.
Are you going to ____ beach this afternoon?

http://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/grammar-exercise-definite-or-zero-article.php
I saw the above excercise on the vs zero article. I got all right but didn't understand the rule for using "the" and not the "zero article".
Thanks
NKM
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 3:55:21 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 3,566
Neurons: 143,279
Location: Corinth, New York, United States
Jigneshbharati wrote:

I was at _____ train station when you called me.
Are you going to ____ beach this afternoon?

http://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/grammar-exercise-definite-or-zero-article.php
I saw the above excercise on the vs zero article. I got all right but didn't understand the rule for using "the" and not the "zero article".
Thanks

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There seems to be no reliable rule for this. Rather, there are just some conventions, and those are likely to be inconsistent, illogical and confusing.

- We go to school, but to the beach.
"School" is (usually) an institution; "the beach" is just a place. So we may be "at school" or "in school," but "at the beach."
But "the school" can be a building, so we might tell someone to "Go past the school, then turn left."

Similarly, one may go to church and be in/at church every Sunday. But there are several churches in my town; I play the organ in the church on Main Street.

I may go home. (no preposition, no article)
I can be [at] home and stay [at] home. (the "at" is optional, but still no article)
But that's only applicable if it's my own home. Otherwise, I may go to / stay at / be at the home of a friend. (both preposition and article required)

Such quirks seem quite natural and instinctive to a native speaker, but can certainly be difficult for anyone not born to the language. The good news, I suppose, is that you will be understood even if you haven't mastered all the nuances.

In fact, you say you got them right without understanding the rules. Basically, that's what we all do!



Wilmar (USA)
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 7:30:07 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/4/2015
Posts: 527
Neurons: 97,190
Location: Vinton, Iowa, United States
Regarding going to school, I think the distinction is as follows.

The expression "go to school" means participating as a student in the education process. The message is not that I travel on foot (or in a vehicle...) to a school building or campus.

For example:
Bob (speaking to Betty): Do you have a full-time job?
Betty: No, I go to school. (Betty is simply conveying that she is a student. It may be full-time or part-time, and may be in addition to working a job. That part doesn't matter. She is a student.)

Bob: Where do you do your volunteer work with the youth?
Betty: I go to a school. You probably know the one -- it's on the west side of the city, near the factories.


tunaafi
Posted: Saturday, April 22, 2017 1:01:42 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/3/2014
Posts: 4,095
Neurons: 51,938
Location: Karlín, Praha, Czech Republic
Quote:
There seems to be no reliable rule for this. Rather, there are just some conventions, and those are likely to be inconsistent, illogical and confusing.


Applause

Having been involved in the world of ELT in some way or another for fifty years now, I can generally find some straightforward way of explaining most of the finer points of English grammar to learners. However, I have never been able to find clear, consistent reasons for some of the ways native speakers use articles.

In a workshop for experienced native-speaking teachers of EFL, I once gave out a text with gaps before all the noun phrases, and asked the participants to fill in appropriate articles if necessary. The half-dozen or so participants were a lttle surprised to discover that no two completed texts had been filled in exactly the same way.

Quote:
 The good news, I suppose, is that you will be understood even if you haven't mastered all the nuances
.
Quite!

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