a lack of energy/lack of energy

< Previous | Next >

Anais Ninn

Senior Member
Korean
What's the difference between "she experienced a lack of energy." and "she experienced lack of energy"? i.e. when do you use "a lack of something" and when "lack of something" without an article?

Thanks.

Anais
 
  • ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    The difference is minimal but there is a difference nevertheless. "She experienced a lack of energy" suggests that some of the energy in her was lacking while "She experienced lack of energy" gives me the impression that 'She' had absolutely no energy left.

    I hope this helps.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    It does help. Thanks a lot, ash93.

    Anais

    The difference is minimal but there is a difference nevertheless. "She experienced a lack of energy" suggests that some of the energy in her was lacking while "She experienced lack of energy" gives me the impression that 'She' had absolutely no energy left.

    I hope this helps.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I've never heard this term used in this structure without "a" or "the"... Ash93 has indicated that "she experienced lack of energy" means she has no energy while "a lack" means she has some left - I respectfully disagree. "Lack" in this context is a noun meaning "deficiency or absence of something"/"something missing or needed" (Dictionary.com). It does not specify a quantitative amount based on whether it is used with a definite article or not. Based on Ash93's belief, what do the following examples mean?

    "He had a lack of money"
    "He had lack of money"

    "He had a lack of good judgement"
    "He had lack of good judgement"

    "He had a lack of friends"
    "He had lack of friends"

    I believe that you have to use an article with the word "lack" in all cases where it is used as a noun. To clarify the quantitative energy lost, you would need to specify ie:

    "She experienced a total lack of energy"
    "She experienced a lack of some energy"
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    I've never heard this term used in this structure without "a" or "the"... Ash93 has indicated that "she experienced lack of energy" means she has no energy while "a lack" means she has some left - I respectfully disagree. "Lack" in this context is a noun meaning "deficiency or absence of something"/"something missing or needed" (Dictionary.com). It does not specify a quantitative amount based on whether it is used with a definite article or not. Based on Ash93's belief, what do the following examples mean?

    "He had a lack of money"
    "He had lack of money"

    "He had a lack of good judgement"
    "He had lack of good judgement"

    "He had a lack of friends"
    "He had lack of friends"

    I believe that you have to use an article with the word "lack" in all cases where it is used as a noun. To clarify the quantitative energy lost, you would need to specify ie:

    "She experienced a total lack of energy"
    "She experienced a lack of some energy"[/
    These are better examples to use.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks for your reply But I found this sentence in the American Heritage Dictionary; Lack of funding brought the project to a halt.

    Anais

    I've never heard this term used in this structure without "a" or "the"...
    [...]
    I believe that you have to use an article with the word "lack" in all cases where it is used as a noun.
    [...]
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Right, winklepicker. Then what about the usage of an article? Does "A lack of funding brought the project to a halt." sound odd to you? If not, do you see the sutle difference between the two? i.e. whathat's the difference between "a lack of..." and "lack of..."? Do you agree with ash93?

    Anais

    This is perfectly OK to this BE ear.
     

    difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    Have you considered that the example without the article is at the begining of the sentence? Maybe a grammarian can explain this? I'd also like to know.
    I can say though that, this "she experienced lack of energy", is certainly wrong.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks a lot for your reply, difficult cuss. If "she experienced lack of energy." is wrong, could you explain the reason?

    Anais

    Have you considered that the example without the article is at the begining of the sentence? Maybe a grammarian can explain this? I'd also like to know.
    I can say though that, this "she experienced lack of energy", is certainly wrong.
     

    difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    No, I am sorry but I can not. Like many English people who went through the comprehensive school system, I had no training in grammar.
    However I know through usage that there needs to be an article.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Nevertheless, I appreciate your input. :)

    Could you tell me if "Lack of energy may be the reason why she has been acting funny." sounds wrong to you, instead?

    Anais

    No, I am sorry but I can not. Like many English people who went through the comprehensive school system, I had no training in grammar.
    However I know through usage that there needs to be an article.
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Nevertheless, I appreciate your input. :)

    Could you tell me if "Lack of energy may be the reason why she has been acting funny." sounds wrong to you, instead?

    Anais
    I'm with cuss on this one. I know what sounds right but I can't explain why!

    1. "she experienced lack of energy" is certainly wrong.

    2. "Lack of energy may be the reason why she has been acting funny" sounds fine however.

    It may be that in the case of 1) the lack being referred to is a specific one - ie the lack of energy she is experiencing today, or at 3pm or whatever. Whereas in 2) it sounds like a general lack of energy - ie a lack of energy that persists.

    But there are brainy people in this forum who will know, I'm sure.
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Nevertheless, I appreciate your input. :)

    Could you tell me if "Lack of energy may be the reason why she has been acting funny." sounds wrong to you, instead?

    Anais
    I agree with Winklepicker. "Lack of energy may be the reason why she has been acting funny." Sounds fine to me in BE.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you very much for your reply. But what if these two sentences are put together? For example, "She complained of a lack of energy she has been experiencing these days. So, lack of energy may be the reason why she's acting funny today." Do both sentences sound ok? If so, why? After all, we are talking about the same lack of energy here.

    Anais

    I'm with cuss on this one. I know what sounds right but I can't explain why!

    1. "she experienced lack of energy" is certainly wrong.

    2. "Lack of energy may be the reason why she has been acting funny" sounds fine however.

    It may be that in the case of 1) the lack being referred to is a specific one - ie the lack of energy she is experiencing today, or at 3pm or whatever. Whereas in 2) it sounds like a general lack of energy - ie a lack of energy that persists.

    But there are brainy people in this forum who will know, I'm sure.
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Thank you very much for your reply. But what if these two sentences are put together? For example, "She complained of a lack of energy she has been experiencing these days. So, lack of energy may be the reason why she's acting funny today." Do both sentences sound ok? If so, why? After all, we are talking about the same lack of energy here.

    Anais
    They don't sound right to me. I would rather say:

    She has been complaining of lack of energy these days. That might be why she's acting funny today.
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Thank you very much for your reply. But what if these two sentences are put together? For example, "She complained of a (particular) lack of energy she has been experiencing these days. So, lack of energy (in general) may be the reason why she's acting funny today." Do both sentences sound ok? If so, why? After all, we are talking about the same lack of energy here.

    Anais
    We are, but one is still specific and the other still general. I think.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I am sorry for keep asking but I really want to understand this. Let me use another example then. "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including a lack of sunlight." is correct?

    Anais
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    I am sorry for keep asking but I really want to understand this. Let me use another example then. "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including a lack of sunlight." is correct?

    Anais
    Oh dear! In this case, it's my opinion that you can say either. If you say 'lack of' it's general, if you say 'a lack of' it's specific.

    I'm not really helping you here, am I?! Let's wait and see what others think.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks for trying to enlighten me, although I am still in the dark. (Buaaaaa!!!) I really appreciate it. :)

    Is there anyone else who can deliver me out of this misery?

    Anais

    Oh dear! In this case, it's my opinion that you can say either. If you say 'lack of' it's general, if you say 'a lack of' it's specific.

    I'm not really helping you here, am I?! Let's wait and see what others think.
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Right let's have a go. "a" lack of anything is specific because of the "a". eg. "a" chocolate bar, "a" TV..etc...

    Without the article, you could be referring to anything general.
    eg. chocolate bar, TV.

    You could be talking about any chocolate bar or any TV.

    In the same way, "a" lack of energy could mean a lack of a specific type of energy in 'her' body. However lack of energy could mean just general energy defficiency.

    Does that help any more?
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks, ash93. Does "She experienced lack of energy." sound wrong to you then? Also, your explanation, which I appreciate a lot, gives me another question about an article. We never say 'apple' without an article. It's either "An apple (in general) a day keeps the doctor away." or "Can you pass me the apple (specific) on the table?"

    This brings us back to the point; Why, then, do you say "She experienced a lack of energy." instead of "She experienced the lack of energy.", and "Lack of energy may be the reason" instead of "A lack of energy may be the reason."?

    Thanks a lot!

    Anais

    Right let's have a go. "a" lack of anything is specific because of the "a". eg. "a" chocolate bar, "a" TV..etc...

    Without the article, you could be referring to anything general.
    eg. chocolate bar, TV.

    You could be talking about any chocolate bar or any TV.

    In the same way, "a" lack of energy could mean a lack of a specific type of energy in 'her' body. However lack of energy could mean just general energy defficiency.

    Does that help any more?
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Thanks, ash93. Does "She experienced lack of energy." sound wrong to you then? Also, your explanation, which I appreciate a lot, gives me another question about an article. We never say 'apple' without an article. It's either "An apple (in general) a day keeps the doctor away." or "Can you pass me the apple (specific) on the table?"

    This brings us back to the point; Why, then, do you say "She experienced a lack of energy." instead of "She experienced the lack of energy.", and "Lack of energy may be the reason" instead of "A lack of energy may be the reason."?

    Thanks a lot!

    Anais
    The reason you don't say she experienced THE lack of energy is because you'd be referring to a specific lack of energy and since there is none, it would make no sense to say "the".
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Ok, I can accept that. Then, back to the one of the examples a initially suggested, Lack of funding brought the project to a halt. sounds ok to you? This is the specific lack of funding we are talking here.

    Anais

    The reason you don't say she experienced THE lack of energy is because you'd be referring to a specific lack of energy and since there is none, it would make no sense to say "the".
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Ok, I can accept that. Then, back to the one of the examples a initially suggested, Lack of funding brought the project to a halt. sounds ok to you? This is the specific lack of funding we are talking here.

    Anais
    :D It sounds fine. If you want to be extremely specific, I suggest:

    'Lack of the Project funds brought it to a halt.' Sound ok?
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    But, according to your previous explanation, it shouldn't sound fine to you, should it? Following your logic, we should say "A lack of funding brought...". How would you explain the discrepancy? :confused:

    Anais


    :D It sounds fine. If you want to be extremely specific, I suggest:

    'Lack of the Project funds brought it to a halt.' Sound ok?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    This is a tricky one. I've read through the answers and I've thought about it myself. There are times when the lack of an article sounds fine and times when it doesn't.

    For example:

    "She failed to finish her laps around the track today for lack of energy." :tick:
    "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt." :tick:

    But:

    "The project experienced a lack of funding." :tick:
    "She seems to be suffering from a lack of energy." :tick:

    I wish I could see the pattern. Instinctively I either add the article or I don't based on the particular sentence. This is probably one of those circumstances where a native speaker is the worst person to explain something. :)
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you very much, JamesM.

    It is surprising that you say "She failed to finish her laps around the track today for lack of energy." but "She seems to be suffering from a lack of energy."

    A language is not something you were born with, but something you acquire later on. Although you intuitively add or omit an article, there has to be a pattern - whether you consciously recognize or not - because all the native speakers with different backgrounds, personalities, habits and tastes seem to agree on such usages.

    Could you chew on it a little more and let me know whenever you come up with something?

    Thanks a lot!

    Anais
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Here's another phrase that tends to leave out "a":

    due to lack of + noun…

    "I failed to answer any threads today due to [a] lack of energy/motivation/time."

    Either works for me, but I prefer it without the article.

    In other structures "a" is necessary. It's really very hard to figure out any rules!

    Gaer
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I believe that "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt" sounds okay to our ears simply because we hear it spoken so often that way. If we think, however, of the way it would be written in a newspaper article or magazine, it would almost certainly be preceded by an article. To be honest, I would notice the absence of the article even in this sentence but it does not jar against my ears.

    There is no question that "She experienced lack of energy" is incorrect. I think this sounds more "wrong" simply because the absence of the article in the middle of the sentence is more glaring than at the beginning of a sentence.

    Another of Anais' example sentences was:

    "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including a lack of sunlight."

    For me, this is absolutely correct and removing the article "a" would not work. You could also say "...the lack of sunlight" because we are talking about a specific contributing factor.

    I think the use of "lack" without an article is simply one of those habits that can creep into the language. I always ask myself "how would I write it" and go with that.

    Great question, Anais!:)
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Gaer, thanks a lot for your input.

    So far, I noticed;

    1. When the noun 'lack' comes after a verb, it tends to require 'a'.
    examples: I have a lack of energy. The project experienced a lack of funding.

    2. When there is a preposition in front of the noun 'lack' and the preposition indicates a reason or a cause, the phrase does not need 'a'.
    examples: She didn't run today for lack of energy. I failed to answer any threads today due to lack of energy.

    Would you all agree with my findings? Can you think of any sentences that prove any of these two rules wrong? Can you think of any other rules?

    Anais

    Here's another phrase that tends to leave out "a":

    due to lack of + noun…

    "I failed to answer any threads today due to [a] lack of energy/motivation/time."

    Either works for me, but I prefer it without the article.

    In other structures "a" is necessary. It's really very hard to figure out any rules!

    Gaer
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Dimcl, I really appreciate your explanation.

    My trouble lies in the fact that "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt." was found in the American Heritage Dictionary and that "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including a lack of sunlight." was a sentence modified by me and the original sentence writtten by a native speaker reads "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including troubled family relationships, stress, fatigue, lack of sunlight..."

    I wonder why the American Heritage Dictionary chose to use a sentence that is not absolutely correct and why the reporter wrote the second sentence decided to drop the article. Could it be a regional thing? Could it be a personal preference? :confused:

    Anais

    I believe that "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt" sounds okay to our ears simply because we hear it spoken so often that way. If we think, however, of the way it would be written in a newspaper article or magazine, it would almost certainly be preceded by an article. To be honest, I would notice the absence of the article even in this sentence but it does not jar against my ears.

    There is no question that "She experienced lack of energy" is incorrect. I think this sounds more "wrong" simply because the absence of the article in the middle of the sentence is more glaring than at the beginning of a sentence.

    Another of Anais' example sentences was:

    "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including a lack of sunlight."

    For me, this is absolutely correct and removing the article "a" would not work. You could also say "...the lack of sunlight" because we are talking about a specific contributing factor.

    I think the use of "lack" without an article is simply one of those habits that can creep into the language. I always ask myself "how would I write it" and go with that.

    Great question, Anais!:)
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Dimcl, I really appreciate your explanation.

    My trouble lies in the fact that "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt." was found in the American Heritage Dictionary and that "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including a lack of sunlight." was a sentence modified by me and the original sentence writtten by a native speaker reads "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including troubled family relationships, stress, fatigue, lack of sunlight..."

    I wonder why the American Heritage Dictionary chose to use a sentence that is not absolutely correct and why the reporter wrote the second sentence decided to drop the article. Could it be a regional thing? Could it be a personal preference? :confused:

    Anais
    I think that "lack of funding" in the sentence, "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt" is being used, collectively, as a non-countable noun in a general sense whereas I think that "lack" is a non-countable noun in a specific sense. I'm not even sure it can be used in a general sense - if so, I can't think of any way of doing so.

    I think "lack of sunlight" is being used in the same way.

    I'm not sure we're going to solve this one, Anais...:( I'm not suggesting that the dictionary is wrong or that the writer of the sentence is wrong - I just can't figure out why they'd be right. I sure hope somebody comes in and solves this for us...
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Dimcl,

    Thank you very much for trying to help me.

    Let me ask you this.
    If we heard someone saying "I have apple." we would suspect he/she is a non native speaker, right? If we heard someone saying "This tastes real good." we wouldn't automatically assume he/she is a non native since this is a grammatical error common among native speakers.

    If you heard someone saying "I have lack of energy." you would suspect the speaker is not a native one, correct? Then, would you have suspected the same thing about the author of "...lack of sunlight..."?

    Thanks a lot.

    Anais

    I think that "lack of funding" in the sentence, "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt" is being used, collectively, as a non-countable noun in a general sense whereas I think that "lack" is a non-countable noun in a specific sense. I'm not even sure it can be used in a general sense - if so, I can't think of any way of doing so.

    I think "lack of sunlight" is being used in the same way.

    I'm not sure we're going to solve this one, Anais...:( I'm not suggesting that the dictionary is wrong or that the writer of the sentence is wrong - I just can't figure out why they'd be right. I sure hope somebody comes in and solves this for us...
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Dimcl,

    Thank you very much for trying to help me.

    Let me ask you this.
    If we heard someone saying "I have apple." we would suspect he/she is a non native speaker, right? :tick: If we heard someone saying "This tastes real good." we wouldn't automatically assume he/she is a non native since this is a grammatical error common among native speakers. Maybe not "automatically" but I'd sure wonder!

    If you heard someone saying "I have lack of energy." you would suspect the speaker is not a native one, correct? :tick: Then, would you have suspected the same thing about the author of "...lack of sunlight..."?
    I'm not sure that I would have suspected that they weren't a native speaker, Anais, but I would have immediately noticed the absence of the article and would, personally, consider it incorrect.

    Thanks a lot.

    Anais
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks a lot for your time and effort, dimcl.

    For those who read this, Enlighten Anais Project is not over. Please keep it coming. :D

    Thanks!

    Anais
     

    Barnaby

    Member
    English U.S.
    I may lack the tools to explain what I think.

    She lacked energy.

    Some people may experience side effects, including nausea, dizziness, sleeplessness, [a] lack of energy, and death.

    The reason it may sound okay without the article is because it has become such a standard phrase for something seen as a symptom, or as they like to say today, something seen as sympomatic. I have a problem with such things. I find them problematic.) It is like

    [A] lack of backbone: that’s her problem.

    It might well be written now as lack-of-energy

    The process by which it has come to sound okay to you is called aphesis. (I just learned this word today.)

    So there was once an old exclamation, alack-a-day!, which slowly morphed into lackadaisy!, from which we get lackadaisical.

    Someday we will have lackergenical.

    She lacked energy. A fact. Short, sweet, and true.

    She experienced lack of energy. A symptom. Wordy. The sign of someone predisposed to jargon and passive constructions, and who either has a limited vocabulary or just falls too easily into using the handy stock terms, or both. (A certain American president comes to mind.)

    She felt lethargic, sluggish, was constantly fatigued.

    She experienced an unexplainable lethargy.

    [The] fact of the matter is: if you want to be a good curmudgeon, always use an article with the noun form of lack.

    The apparent lack of patriotism expressed by this poster’s criticism of his president is utterly appalling.

    Note that lack still has an article here.

    For more words I am, I fear, alack.
     

    Barnaby

    Member
    English U.S.
    I asume you meant with or without the article. True, it will work either way. As I think about it though, it goes back to where this started. If you leave out the article, lethargy is a feeling. If you put it in, it suggests more strongly that it is a symptom of the something else, something that can't be explained and not just a feeling. Lethargy is just something that happens. A [n unexplainable] lethargy is something to put under a microscope.

    Feeling versus thing.

    I'm tired.

    Gee, I tire easily.

    Everyday I'm tired.

    Why am I tired every day?

    Why is it that I'm tired everyday?

    Gee, this website is fun. Hope I don't get addicted.
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    The reason it may sound okay without the article is because it has become such a standard phrase for something seen as a symptom, or as they like to say today, something seen as sympomatic. I have a problem with such things. I find them problematic.) It is like

    [A] lack of backbone: that’s her problem.

    It might well be written now as lack-of-energy

    [The] fact of the matter is: if you want to be a good curmudgeon, always use an article with the noun form of lack.
    There has been no lack of posts on this subject. Shortage of answers: that's the problem.

    But I like Barnaby's reasoning and the nice easy rule for non-natives that it embodies.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I've just wandered in here after posting on Inferiority complex
    ... the connection might become clear in a moment, if you know both threads.

    Lack of energy is not a disease or a condition that people experience - it is not quite established as "lack-of-energy".

    Lack of energy is a description of something, not the name of something.

    I suspect that I have simply paraphrased something that has already been said.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Barnaby, thank you very much for your elaborate explanation.

    Two more questions.

    1. You said it has become a standard phrase. The, when is it ok to omit the article? i.e. "She didn't run today for lack of energy" is more tolerable than "She experienced lack of energy." right? Many people in this forum and my native speaker friends told me that they would know if the speaker is non-native if he/she said "She experienced lack of energy."

    2. Is there any case in which the sentence would read odd with an article? Having said that, something being grammatically correct is different from something being natural. For example, "long time no see" doesn't make any grammatical sense but it sounds natural and seems to be used more often than "it has been a long time without seeing you." In other words, I want to learn "long time no see." not "it has been a long time without seeing you." :)

    Thanks a bunch!

    Anais
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks again, gaer, for your input.

    Do you mean, "She experienced lack of energy." works for you? :eek: Many native speakers answered me that they expect only a non native speaker would say it without an article. Would you agree?

    Anais

    I like your ideas. I would merely add that we have a similar problem here:

    She experienced [an] unexplainable lethargy.

    I believe that also works both with and with the article. :)lack.

    Gaer
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If you really want to get past the grammatical to the natural language, it would perhaps be useful to avoid the phrase "lack of energy" completely :)
    She experienced ... is also a rather formal construction.
    For me, at least, this is making it difficult to decide what the most natural form of the sentence would be. To be truthful, neither of them would come naturally into a conversation or a letter.

    The sentence would be more appropriate in a clinical report of a doctor/patient interview. In that context, in keeping with the cryptic nature of medical records, the article could safely be omitted.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks, panj, for your reply.

    What if we replace 'experience' with 'have'?

    i.e. I have a lack of energy.

    Anais

    If you really want to get past the grammatical to the natural language, it would perhaps be useful to avoid the phrase "lack of energy" completely :)
    She experienced ... is also a rather formal construction.
    For me, at least, this is making it difficult to decide what the most natural form of the sentence would be. To be truthful, neither of them would come naturally into a conversation or a letter.

    The sentence would be more appropriate in a clinical report of a doctor/patient interview. In that context, in keeping with the cryptic nature of medical records, the article could safely be omitted.
     

    Barnaby

    Member
    English U.S.
    What lies below is a perfect illustration of what I was talking about and what is happening. It is taken from a site called About.com, which is owned by the New York Times. It's a page about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Note that in the first instance, where the author omits the article, it is part of a list and that we are talking about symptoms. I never said it was a disease, dear sir. It sounds nautral enough here because we are hearing it over and over. Inserting the article would also sound natural. Note that in the second instance it gets the article and does double duty. (I added the blue note.) In the addled logic of the writer it would seem that the extra work demanded the assistance of the "a" word.

    Fatigue: Overview and Treatment
    Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy. Fatigue is different from drowsiness. In general, drowsiness is feeling the need to sleep, while fatigue is a lack of energy and [a lack of] motivation.

    Special thanks to About.com for explaining the difference between feeling sleepy and feeling tired.

    As to why she didn't run, Ms. Ninn?
    She didn't run because she lacked the energy.
    She didn't run because she was too tired.
    Or maybe it was raining.

    And as for "long time no see" well, that's pidgin English that became part of the vernacular. I thought it probably came from Native Americans (who gave us the similar and wonderful "many moons") but it seems others would place it with the Chinese immigrants who built the U.S. railroads in the nineteenth century. That sounds right to me. Like "no tickee no washee."
     

    mm21

    New Member
    New Zealand English
    'My trouble lies in the fact that "Lack of funding brought the project to a halt." was found in the American Heritage Dictionary and that "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including a lack of sunlight." was a sentence modified by me and the original sentence written by a native speaker reads "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including troubled family relationships, stress, fatigue, lack of sunlight..."'


    I would explain these problems in saying that they are stylistic devices and exceptions to the rule.

    1. "Lack of funding..."

    I consider this an abbreviated style of writing that delivers a message with the greatest punch and the fewest words.
    Sub-editors often leave out articles in newspaper headings; "Earthquake destroys Wellington', 'Battle continues in the Alps'.
    Imagine the problem sentence in the hands of a sub-editor in their attempt at turning a beauractic bungle into a headline grabber:
    'Lack of funding brought project to halt'

    Your problem sentence obviously wasn't taken from a headline but I can picture a secretary using this sentence in typing up minutes. Another possibilty is as a concluding sentence of a paragraph of any prose which has discussed the extensive planning of an event and concludes with the with the clincher...'Lack of funding brought the project to a halt.' Be a devil, throw out that pesky article and its a smack in the face (but also potentially brash and in the right context possessing a ring of American business-speak).

    2. "A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including troubled family relationships, stress, fatigue, lack of sunlight..."'

    The native speaker did a good thing in banishing that meddlesome 'a'. Putting an article before the 'lack of sunlight' would throw a very ugly spanner in the works and would break the flow of the list. Were 'lack of sunlight' to be placed after the inevitable 'and' then I would apologise to 'a' and put it back in its rightful place.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks, panj, for your reply.

    What if we replace 'experience' with 'have'?

    i.e. I have a lack of energy.

    Anais
    This is trying to construct an unnatural sentence. There may be nothing wrong with that sentence - grammatically - but it is weird.

    I have no energy. - simple, natural, easy, normal.
    I lack energy. - not many people would choose that one, but it's more natural than "I have a lack of energy."

    I mean, think of another example - try chocolate instead of energy.
    I have a lack of chocolate. - not likely to be heard anywhere around here anyway.
     

    difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    Hi Panjam, possibly because to have a lack is to have something which you do not have...it seems to be paradoxical, even though it is not.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top