My frustrated Polish friends (often baffled by article usage because their own language has no articles) wanted to know why there's no definite article before the expression "picture No. 24" (as in "Could we have permission to reproduce picture No. 24?") - and I couldn't tell them!

Can anyone help?

Many thanks,


  • 1
    Because picture No. 24 is effectively the name of the piece of art in question. In some settings, the word Picture in that phrase might be capitalized. – bib Oct 29 '15 at 14:39
  • I agree with @bib that it's a proper name, and that's why it doesn't have an article. – Greg Lee Oct 29 '15 at 14:54
  • Many thanks for taking the time to answer, Bib. What you say makes total sense, and that is the answer my friends shall get! Best, Alex – alex Oct 29 '15 at 14:58
  • Picture takes the place of "the" – michael_timofeev Oct 29 '15 at 16:35

When you say "the picture" you are using the word the to indicate that it's a specific picture, not just "a picture."

However, when you say "picture number 24" you don't need to use the to signify that it is a specific picture. The fact that you have named the picture provides the specificity.

Technically "picture number 24" could be the title of the picture, in which case it would be a proper noun and capitalized. Even as a common noun, though, the same principle of specificity applies.

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