(The) food/beer in Hong Kong

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Hi all,

I am forever having these problems with articles. Thank you for your help.

Food (or beer) is tasty in Hong Kong.
The food (or beer) is tasty in Hong Kong.

Food (or beer) is very good here [in Hong Kong].
The food (or beer) is very good here [in Hong Kong].

Is either correct? Again I asked our teacher and although he is a native speaker and is smart, I am not always 100% sure with him. Although he got me this far.

He explained it thusly: Both are correct, but there is a subtle difference, which makes the "the" before the nouns better.

Food/beer is tasty in Hong Kong = zero article suggests to him that all/any food/beer in HK is good, even if comes from abroad to be sold in Hong Kong. Something you might see in an economist's report. E.g. Food is inexpensive in Hong Kong.
The food/beer is tasty in Hong Kong = the definite article suggests to him that it's the local food that is being referred to, the food and beer that Hong Kong is famous for. Something you might see in a travel guide and probably better reflects what I am trying to say.

The same goes for the 2nd example.

I don't have a problem with his explanation, but I am not a native speaker and do the native speakers here agree? (By the way, I prefer Euro beer. It's just an example.. :)

Thank you,
  • KHS

    Senior Member
    I don't make the distinction that your friend makes. I agree that both are correct. For me, that goes back to the fact that you can think of food or drink as a general commodity that is good in Hong Kong, or you can think of the fact of the food or drink in Hong Kong being good. Still, for me, the overall meaning remains the same.


    Thank you for answering, KHS. I understand now. I wanted to make sure that both are correct. Thank you again.


    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    For the food prepared in Hong Kong, shouldn't it be "The food in Hong Kong is tasty?" I mean shouldn't "in Hong Kong" come just after "food"? Don't the original sentences (both) seem to imply that even if you carry food to Hong Kong from somewhere else (say as a tourist) and eat it there, it tastes good?


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    No, because logic would dismiss that interpretation. The taste of food isn't expected to change if you take it from one place to another.


    France - French

    I know that this question has already been answered and I do not wish to add to any confusion, but I found your teacher's explanation curious. Frankly, it's the first time I have ever heard of it. It is so charming, though, that I am also convinced - almost. :)

    But I am with KHS. I don't see the difference between the two. Especially in your first example. For what it's worth, I have just come back from an extended stay in Portugal and my travel guide (not an economist's report!) says: Food in Portugal is a blend of Iberian and international influences. No article, yet they are referring to Portuguese food, not, say, Chinese food that might be sold by Chinese immigrants in Portugal. When you throw in "in Hong Kong", your determiner is already there and you really don't need to add the definite article before "food". It seems to me to be superfluous.
    Just like you would not add the definite article in the sentence "Real estate is expensive in Hong Kong". You could, I suppose, but there is no need. Real estate, admittedly, might be less tangible than food, but if you think of both as a general commodity, the definite article is not needed.

    Now, if you say something like, "I love Hong Kong: the food is tasty . . ." - you definitely need the definite article. There is no determiner following your proclamation of love, so you have to say "the food" in this example to let your interlocutor know that it's the food in Hong Kong that you're referring to. But that's a whole different story and has nothing to do with your original question.
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