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A friend and I walked past a poster advertising BabiesRUs and the slogan was "Everything for baby". My friend said it's bad grammar and should include "your" or make "baby" into "babies". I disagreed but couldn't give a reasonable explanation as to why it is okay to omit the determiner in this case, but I'm still convinced it's perfectly reasonable, especially because it's advertising copy and doesn't necessarily have to conform to strict grammar. But even in everyday English, it seems perfectly correct to me.

Is it okay to omit the determiner in some cases and what are those cases?

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  • I don't think a possessive pronoun is key here, but rather whether "baby" requires a determiner. Typically "baby" would have a determiner (e.g. "the baby", but I have definitely seen it used without one in many contexts. I wonder if there is a word for that...
    – Evan
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 18:08
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    It seems like it has the effect of making "baby" into a proper noun, as if your baby's name is "Baby."
    – Evan
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 18:22
  • In spite of what Noam Chomsky says, I think it is pretty safe to say that babies, in general, have indifferent grammar. Commented May 6, 2017 at 20:10
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    It is very doubtful that 'Everything for baby' should be judged according to normal grammatical standards, as it is below sentence-level and in no way unclear. It is a widely used phrase, and usage ultimately determines acceptability. I'd not use say 'These stores had everything for baby' in a formal piece of writing, though. Note that 'Everything for dad / mum / grandad' would not raise many eyebrows, unlike 'Everything for son / nephew / daughter / grandson ...'. Commented May 6, 2017 at 21:32
  • ... @Evan mentions 'proper noun [gradience]', but I'd say it's more related to use as title: Now listen, grandad / mum / son' (though there isn't a 1-to-1 correspondence here. 'Son' is quite often used as a title (I'd say unlike 'daughter), but 'Everything for son' is not idiomatic.) Commented May 6, 2017 at 21:32

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Like Evan said above, the advertising was deliberately using "baby" as a proper noun; and as such, it's not grammatically wrong. It's a common way for advertisers to play into the psychology of new parenthood (when your new baby is the 24/7 center of your world, it doesn't sound so strange to hear "baby" as a proper noun even from strangers and advertisers).

Consider a pet store advertising "everything for Fluffy" or "everything for Fido" - same exact principle, and it doesn't sound odd.

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