The usage or non-usage of article and number of noun is always a headache for non-native English speakers, particularly to Asians who don’t have the notion of article and number (singular / plural) in their language structure. I have read a half dozen of English grammar books specialized in the use of article in the past. Still usage of articles is in absolute limbo to me.
Recently I tried to translate the following poem of a famous Japanese poet, Horiguchi Daigaku titled ‘Stone speaks in silence’ into English:
"Stone speaks in silence.
It speaks straight to my heart.
Wet in the rain, dry under the sun,
stone doesn’t change for thousands of years.
Resisting the flow of water,
stone doesn’t move a bit for thousands of years."
Of course, I have ‘stone’ here as a collective noun in mind, but I was at a loss to decide whether it should be ‘stone,’ ‘a stone,’ ‘the stone,’ or ‘stones.’
Did I put it right or wrong? If it’s wrong, what should it be? Why? What is a knack of deciding the use of article for collective noun?
By the way, the Scriptures say;
Jesus answered, "I tell you that if they keep quiet, the stones themselves will start shouting," - Luke 19:40.