Why didn't they use an article ("The" or "A") before "newspaper" in this sentence from Jacqueline Wilson's Happy Holidays?

Mum made us put newspaper down first so that we wouldn't get piles.

I Think it should be *"put the newspaper".

Full source here.

  • 1
    I don't understand the intent of the sentence. Can you please elaborate? How does putting newspaper down first stop people from getting piles, whether medical or mountainous?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 8:45
  • Please have a look at the original source, I don't understand the piles thing too :) Please help! Thank you!
    – Zui Zui
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 9:01
  • Looks like the medical sort. I agree with Michael Harvey's answer. By the way, it would help for you to quote the whole paragraph. If/when you edit your answer, use ">" at the start of the line for the block quote. The back-tick quotes don't automatically produce line breaks (if you're using the buttons, use the double-quote icon rather than the braces).
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 9:15
  • It’s a common belief that sitting on a cold/hard step or surface will give you piles (hemorrhoids). I haven’t seen any evidence of causation or even correlation, and that’s what I told my mother (she still warned me whenever I sat on the back step).
    – Pam
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


'Newspaper' is being used in your example as a non-count (mass noun) which does not need a preceding article.

  1. uncountable noun

Newspaper consists of pieces of old newspapers, especially when they are being used for another purpose such as wrapping things up.

He found two pots, each wrapped in newspaper.

Newspaper (Collins Dictionary)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.