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Section 11.8.3.1

Is an Article Necessary?

Use an article or other determiner if you are referring to one or all of a noun. If you decide an article is necessary, you mustthen choose an appropriate article.Singular countable nouns always refer to a specificamount (one), so they always require an article (unless another determiner ispresent).


Unacceptable

Iridescent quality in many lipsticks is created by blend of fish scalesfrom commercial fish-packing companies.

Acceptable

The iridescent quality in many lipsticks is created bya blend of fish scales from commercial fish-packingcompanies. [Quality and blend are both countablenouns, so in the singular, they must be preceded by an article.]

--"Take It or Leave It," Valley Comic News (modified)


Plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns require an article if they refer toa specific group or subset of the noun. A specific group might be all of thenoun in existence, a noun that is modified by a prepositional phrase or a relative clause, or even an unmodified noun that isunderstood as referring to a specific group or subset of the noun.


Unacceptable

Motion sickness occasionally suffered by two out of five astronauts hasbeen labeled astronausea.

Acceptable

The motion sickness occasionally suffered by two out offive astronauts has been labeled astronausea. [The phraseoccasionally suffered . . .  identifies thespecific subset of the uncountable noun motion sickness.]

--"Take It or Leave It," Valley Comic News


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