I'm a non-native speaker (actually from Russia) and for us the articles (a, an, the) came as a thing that we just have to adopt. We do not have not similar constructions in Russian. Menus I see in programs, and other short phrases related to computer user interfaces usually lack articles (for example Open Location and something like this). I'm wondering, does it look natural for a native English speaker or is it something one is getting used to?

  • You need to add some examples to this question to make it clear what you mean.
    – delete
    Aug 19, 2010 at 4:23

1 Answer 1


This style of writing is not only used for computers. It is also used for short notes, newspaper headlines, road signs, and many store signs. I think it is done mostly for saving space, and English speakers are quite used to it. I believe that it was completely natural to use this style for computers when they came along.

There is a brief entry about this in the last paragraph of this Wikipedia article:

In contexts where concision is especially valued, such as headlines, signs, labels, and notes, articles are often omitted along with certain other function words. For example, rather than The mayor is attacked, a newspaper headline would say just Mayor attacked.

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    additionally, in other languages (French comes to mind) articles are basically mandatory; I cannot tell you how many school tests had red ink on them due to missing articles or inaccurate gender (a construct missing entirely in English) to the article (like "a", "an" = "le", "la"; "le vs. la maison")
    – mfg
    Aug 19, 2010 at 20:36
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    For what it's worth, this English-speaker believes that discarding articles should be a last resort. While it is more concise, I find that retaining articles makes for easier-to-read text - although Kosmonaut is correct to point out that we're generally quite used to abbreviated forms.
    – user9383
    Jun 1, 2011 at 23:33
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    @JonofAllTrades - I agree that it should be a last resort. What really drives me mad is when radio news readers read out headlines in the same way even though there's no reason to do so. I presume it's a misguided attempt to inject some importance but it just sounds inarticulate to my ears.
    – tinyd
    Mar 12, 2012 at 11:44
  • Articles are sometimes dropped for stylist effect as well. For example, "Girlfriend wants a new phone, so I'm shopping for one now". Oct 28, 2015 at 5:53

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