(a?) wool cap pulled down, (a?) scarf tight [omit article?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by redgiant, May 28, 2012.

  1. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Background: Boddy was bracing himself against gusts of wind down the street on a January morning.

    I notice that it's common to omit articles before nouns (wool cap, scarf) after the main sentence (He strode down Newbury Street). I'd like to know if this kind of omission is limited to literary works. Is it fine for causal writing or news reports?
     
  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's a very common usage, and it is not necessarily an article that is omitted.
    It could be, but it could be some other determiner - for example, "his".
    He ran home, (his) shoes squelching through the mud.
    She stood on the bridge, (her) hair streaming in the wind.


    It is not limited to literary works, and is fine for casual writing, news reports, normal conversation.
     
  3. Ironicus Senior Member

    English & Swahili - East Africa
    It can be a very effective way of writing, by drawing a word picture rather than writing a wordy essay. I love the response of the Duke of Wellington when he received word that an elderly man had been caught in the act with a housemaid in Hyde Park one winter morning:
    "Seventy years old? Gal eighteen? Snow on the ground? Gad, sir, it makes one proud to be an Englishman!"
     

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