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Is it possible to avoid using the article in the following sentence:

I have got a Playstation.

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"have got" isn't very good form in the first place. Just drop the word "got." But I know that's not related to your question. –  Flimzy Feb 8 '12 at 0:06
    
@Flimzy What 'form' are you talking about? A little subjective here on your part. I grew up using both forms. I consider the 'have got' form to be slightly informal and it's usually not used in its past tense form 'had got'. That's it. There is nothing good or bad about it. Just idiomatic. –  deutschZuid Feb 10 '12 at 3:04
    
@JamesJiao: The 'form' I am talking about is the use of "have got" as a verb. It is common, but I think it's generally considered ungrammatical. And it doesn't have any greater meaning than simply saying "have," which is never considered incorrect, so there's no reason I can think of to ever use the longer form. And to me (although admittedly not to everyone), the longer form just sounds horribly bad. However, note that I'm speaking from a U.S. standpoint, and apparently in the UK things are a bit different. –  Flimzy Feb 11 '12 at 12:50
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In English you need an article before a noun except when the noun is already preceded by a number or certain other words that identify quantity, or when it is a proper noun, i.e. the name of a unique thing.

So, "I have a dog." (article needed) "I have two dogs." (no article needed -- number) "I have several dogs." (no article -- "several" works like a number) "I have Rover." (no article needed, Rover is the proper name of a specific dog)

The case you give is potentially confusing because "Playstation" may look like it's a proper name. But it isn't, because it doesn't identify a unique object. There are many Playstations out there. So the correct usage is, "I have a Playstation."

If you gave names to each of your video game consoles and you like to call this one "Playstation Zebra" [subtle cinematic allusion for old people], then the correct usage would be, "I am using Playstation Zebra". You would not include an article because Playstation Zebra is a proper name.

Maybe it helps clarify to point out: if you own a Nintendo game console, you would say, "I own a Nintendo", because it's one of many. But if you bought the company, you would say, "I own Nintendo", because there is only one Nintendo company, so it's a proper name.

Side note: The fact that there may be more than one of something with the same proper name doesn't make it not a proper name if you are using it to refer to an individual and the common name is a coincidence. Like if you had a dog named Rover, you would say, "I took Rover for a walk" -- no article -- even though there may be other dogs named Rover. You are not considering your dog to be a member of the class of Rovers, rather, he is an individual who is named Rover.

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Yes, people may and often do use certain words as private Proper Nouns, and these can get used as Proper Nouns, without articles. But it's very informal and colloquial. –  John Lawler Feb 7 '12 at 18:45
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This is all true, but I think your third paragraph is a bit misleading, or maybe a bit circular. "Playstation" is used to mean "a Playstation console", so it's countable, and there are many Playstations out there; but other, similar words are used differently. "Windows" is not used to mean "a Windows computer", so it's not countable, and there are not many Windowses out there; so we say "I have Windows", not "I have a Windows". But we do say "I have a Mac", not "I have Mac", because "Mac" does mean "a Mac computer". It's very word-specific, and even native speakers can get it wrong with –  ruakh Feb 7 '12 at 23:01
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words they don't know very well; I've heard non-geeks use "a Linux" to mean "a Linux box", like you do with Mac and Playstation, but do not do with Windows and Linux. –  ruakh Feb 7 '12 at 23:02
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@ruakh: Hmm, interesting. One could say that technically "Windows" is an operating system and not a kind of computer, so you don't really "have a Windows computer", you have "a computer on which Windows is installed". OSs aren't considered countable: no one says "Install a Windows" or "Install a Linux", just "Install Windows", etc. Likewise if you have two installation CDs, you don't say, "I have two Windowses", you say "I have two copies of Windows" or "I have two Windows install disks." Even Mac, when you're talking about the OS: "Mac OS allows you to ...", not "A Mac OS allows you to ..." –  Jay Feb 8 '12 at 2:47
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Well, I do have "a Windows computer" (or, more likely, "a Windows machine" or "a Windows box"), but yeah, you're right, there are patterns. It's just that you can't always reason out those patterns, or reason out which words follow which patterns, just based on logic. –  ruakh Feb 8 '12 at 3:01
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The marketing teams at Apple/Sony/Nintendo/etc. would dearly like to get everyone to drop the article when referring to their "flagship" products, because it makes those products sound even more important if they can stand alone without "the" or "a" ("the" is considered "better" in this context than "a").

Apple press release: iPad sold well last year.

Journalist: The iPad was launched in 2010.

Consumer: I bought an iPad last week.

So if you want to sound like a truly dedicated fan of the product (or if you work for the company), then drop the article. Otherwise, leave it in.

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"I have a Playstation, but you have an XBox" > "I have P, but you have X", in which the brand is applied not to the object but to the experience of using it. Similar to "Thank you for shopping K-Mart" in place of "--- at K-Mart", in which, like a physical object (the game console), the brand that applies to a physical place (the store) has become the label for a supposedly uniquely satisfying (shopping) experience.

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