Context is where a writer is describing a trait in a book that has a collection of stories.

Why is it okay to say: "..... as he moved from story to story." and not: "..... as he moved from a story to a story."?

  • 1
    Because we say: to move from place to place. Here, replaced by the word "story". This would give you, for instance: to move from chapter to chapter; move from city to city, move from star to star. In short, any noun that can "fit into the slot". It's....idiomatic.
    – Lambie
    Jun 22, 2018 at 14:59
  • Using articles or not using articles is pretty idiomatic. My high school Spanish teacher pointed out that Spanish uses far more definite articles than English does, and for this reason any text of significant length in English is usually longer when translated into Spanish. It doesn't change the meaning, usually; it's just what's conventional and idiomatic in the language.
    – N. Post
    Jun 22, 2018 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


Here's one way of looking at it.

It's not okay to say a story because a is an indefinite article; but, in the case of stories in a book that are being moved between, you've already (implicitly) identified which stories are involved.

 . . . as he moved from story A to story B.

It's not a random set of stories.

So, in this case, it's the definite article that would be used:

 . . . as he moved from the first story to the next story.

It's just that in the general expression you gave, the definite article is elided because the stories aren't being specifically referenced. Instead, it's the overall action of moving between them (not some) that's the object of the sentence.

You might mean to imply something unknown, but then you'd say it explicitly:

He read a story. Then he read another one.

Still, after that had happened, and he'd already read a story, then the story that he had read would be known, and it would become the story he had read. So, the overall set of behaviour that's described (where the sequence is pictured from a temporally later point) necessitates the first story in the sequence being known. And so on.

You might say that he read "a random sequence of stories," but the indefinite article is being applied to the random sequence, not to the individual stories.

But, more than that, he moved from a story to a story is simply not idiomatic. People don't use that phrasing. Because they don't, it sounds wrong if it's encountered . . .

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