Is there anything good on telly tonight?

Why don't we place an article before "telly"? I think it should be "on the telly".

He enjoys the beauties of nature in Siberia.

Why do we use "the" before "beauties" and we don't use an article before "nature"?

Novgorod was the main Russian port for many centuries and was important for Baltic sea trade.

Why don't we use "the" before "Baltic sea"?

Immediately before this he had served as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

On Wikipedia we can see another variant, "The Chancellor of the Exchequer". Why don't we use "the" in this case?

  • 1
    1, 2, 3: telly, nature, trade are being treated as uncountable (mass) nouns. May 2, 2015 at 18:47
  • 2
    In American English, on the tube, on TV. There is no general rule for articles. They are completely idiomatic; that is, any rule fhat requires or forbids article use only applies to one construction (or one particular word); articles elsewhere follow slightly different (or maybe totally different) rules. Article use and preposition use are the last things people learn in English; like Chinese characters, it simply takes a very long time to encounter all of them in context and work out one's own rules. May 2, 2015 at 20:13

1 Answer 1

  1. Plenty of people do say "on the telly"

  2. Some languages do use the article before "nature" – Norwegians are forever going walks "in the nature".

    Anglophoness just don't, that's all, to us it's a condition not a place. (But two can play at this game – the French put an article before names of countries and we don't. Ditto abstractions: why do we not pursue the justice and build the socialism?)

  3. Baltic is being used as an adjective not a noun, but see also Peter Shor above on trade; compare "the submarine sank in THE Baltic".

  4. Chancellor. Well-spotted that both exist.

    Best if Peter comes round for another bite, but my ten kopeks would be that without the article, it has an air of being a title rather than just a function. In "The Mikado", Pooh-Bah is "Lord High Everything Else", and putting the article there would have suggested that all countries had a Lord High Everything Else, not just an imaginary Japan.

    (All countries have a finance minister, even if only the Brits have this weird name for him, going back to the 12th century.)

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