Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Possible Duplicate:
Please use other door?
Is "Stick no bills" correct English?
“train approaching”
What's with syntax in newspaper headlines?

Well, I know the basic rules about using articles, but this is a different case. On pedestrian traffic lights there are signs like:

Press button. Wait for signal.

Why aren’t there any articles before button and signal here?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by J.R., Carlo_R., FumbleFingers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, RegDwigнt Aug 2 '12 at 15:38

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Welcome to ELU, Arturs. I think this is too localised. It's just a road sign message, and it can include either "[nothing]" or "the", according to the writer's preference. So, there is no grammar issue here. I vote to close. –  user19148 Aug 2 '12 at 12:49
    
I've voted General Reference - probably most if not all languages don't always bother with fully grammatical forms in road signs, etc. –  FumbleFingers Aug 2 '12 at 14:40
    
another dupe: why do newspaper headlines use strange syntax rules –  Mitch Aug 2 '12 at 15:49
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's done to make it concise and sound like an instruction. eg

Break egg and put in bowl.

You assume that the article the is used, as in "Break the egg and put it in the bowl." In recipes, ingredients are mentioned before the instructions, so the article the is more appropriate.

To make the instructions concise and easy to read, this implied article is omitted.

share|improve this answer
    
And is it grammatically correct? Why it's not Break an egg and put in a bowl? –  Arturs Aug 2 '12 at 11:53
    
As I said, to make it concise. You assume that the article the is used, as in "Break the egg and put in the bowl." (in recipes, ingredients are mentioned before the instructions, so the article the is more appropriate). To make it concise and easy to read, this implied article is omitted. –  asymptotically Aug 2 '12 at 11:57
1  
Good analogy. Some situations simply don't call for "grammatically correct" sentences; one such situation is giving basic instructions, whether that's the decal describing how to use a blow dryer, or a recipe describing how to make a soufflé. Highway signs are another example where we don't need to write like Dickens. –  J.R. Aug 2 '12 at 12:06
3  
I know, if I was falling out of a plane wearing a parachute not knowing what to do, I'd prefer to read "pull cord" than "reach across your chest with your right and hand and pull the cord away from your left breast". ;o) –  Ste Aug 2 '12 at 12:11
1  
@asymptotically Shouldn't it be "Break the egg and put it in the bowl."? –  American Luke Aug 2 '12 at 13:31
show 3 more comments

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.