Forum: General Forum
Start a New Topic 
  
Author
Comment
singular nouns with no article

Hi!
In some instances, singular nouns can be used without any article. Eg., in a newspaper headline: "The European summer of singer and dancer James Green" (Let's say it is an interview with Mr Green.)

I failed to find any proper grammatically based explination for this... Any suggestions?

Are there other instances of such a use?

Thank you.

Re: singular nouns with no article

Newspaper headlines frequently omit words that are unnecessary for the core meaning, so don't dwell too much on the grammar. In formal writing or speech, the article "the" would usually be included.

The omission of an article is commonplace in what's called a "bare role" NP when it denotes a role or office.

For example, the singular NPs treasurer and president require no article in "She became treasurer", and "They elected him as president".



PaulM

Re: singular nouns with no article

Thank you.

I am aware that newspaper articles are rather peculiar in this regards however, when I presented this sentence in three versions to several English natives, they would perceive them as "unnatural". That was the motivation for me to ask.

"The European summer of the singer and dancer James Green" - "the" here provides a sort of emphasis that he is the unique singer and dancer which does not need to to be true.

"The European summer of a singer and a dancer James Green" - was simply perceived as wrong.

Under "bare role NP" I now found the following discussion: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/268282/can-predicative-complements-not-be-bare-noun-phrases-in-english-that-is-are-cl

for those facing similar problem.

Re: singular nouns with no article

(1) "The European summer of singer and a dancer James Green"
(2) "The European summer of the singer and dancer James Green"
(3) "The European summer of a singer and a dancer, James Green"

They are all okay, though it may be helpful to consider the syntax:

In (1) and (2) the composite NP "(the) singer and dancer" is head of the underlined NP. The noun "James Green" is called an "appositive" modifier; it can replace "(the) singer and dancer" to yield an entailment of the original NP, i.e. "The European summer of James Green". The article "the" serves to mark the phrase as 'definite', which here implies that the reader or listener is already familiar with the person named "James Green". The omission of "the" in (1) is typical journalese; only marginally ungrammatical if at all.

In (3) things are somewhat different. Although "James Green" is again an appositive, it is of the supplementary (non-defining) kind - note the insertion of a comma after "dancer". And unlike in (2) it is no longer a modifier but a separate unit of information, parenthetical in nature, set apart by the comma, and by a slight pause in speech. And this time the article "a" marks the phrase as indefinite; it assumes that the reader or listener is unfamiliar with "James Green".



PaulM