The Use of Articles with Material Nouns
1. With nouns of material (substances) used in a general sense, when a certain material as such is meant, no article is used. The absence of the article has the nominating meaning.
These sleeping pills should be dissolved in water.
She had nothing in the medicine chest but toothpaste and mouthwash and shampoo.
2. Nouns of substances modified by a descriptive attribute are used with the zero article as well. A descriptive attribute only narrows the notion denoted by a noun without specifying it.
There was not a single thing made of real wood in the room: everything was metal and plastic.
3. When a definite part of the substance is meant (when the noun is modified by a particularizing attribute or is made definite by the situation), the definite article is used. The meaning of the definite article is called restricting.
The boss took up a pen and picked a fly out of the ink.
Themeat was good and White Fang was hungry.
4. When an indefinite part of the substance is meant, some is used.
We took some bread and cheese with us, and got some goat's milk.
5. Nouns of material denoting different sorts of material are countable and the articles are used according to the general use of articles with class nouns.
Names of materials become countable nouns in the following cases:
· when various sorts of food products are meant,
They are now giving you bad teas in the club.
· when a portion of food or drink is meant,
If you want to please the boy, buy him an ice.
We went into the pub and I ordered two whiskies.
"A salad and two coffees will do," she said smiling.
· sometimes the change of meaning is quite considerable — the noun comes to indicate an object made of a certain material,
A full glass of orange juice stood beside him.
There was a tin of sardines on the table.
6. Some collective nouns denoting a group of objects thought of as a whole, behave like names of substances. Among them are furniture, equipment, machinery, crockery, hardware, silverware, china, luggage, baggage, etc. Such nouns follow the rules of the use of articles for names of substances.
I need furniture.
The furniture which I bought a few days ago was very expensive.
Date: 2015-01-11; view: 3971