should “the” be omitted when it is used along with the prepositions: in, on, across, etc.? Like in the following sentences, and I'm speaking generally:

1) some birds live in mountains\the mountains

2) some plants live deep in water\the water

3) birds fly over plains\the plains

  • It can be removed, but not should be omitted. – mama Feb 9 at 12:40
  • thanks, mama, you mean that it sounds more common to keep it; like when I say "birds fly over the plains". Do you get the general idea of birds flying over nature plains? So it's not necessary to omit "the". – Adam Jordan Feb 9 at 12:55
  • Using an article or not has nothing to do with prepositions. Any article or no article can occur after any preposition, depending on the context. – John Lawler Feb 9 at 17:39

The absence of the article, the so-called "zero-article", can be used to refer to the noun in general as mode or manner:

Some plants grow on land while others are aquatic and grow in water.

The article "the" can cast the noun it specifies as something everyone knows about, something ubiquitous, not as a particular instance:

We must not speak loudly in the library.

In the city, children often play in the street.

Some plants grow on the land and others in the water.

And the plural can refer to the noun generally:

Airplanes have monitors that warn pilots to pull up when flying too low over mountains.

  • Thanks a lot, I think I get it now. Please correct me if I'm wrong; Some hawks live high in the mountain, and those hawks fly over plains to hunt mice. also, they can fly over rivers to feed on fish that live in the river. – Adam Jordan Feb 9 at 13:51
  • Your sentence is quite good. But I would suggest one change. When speaking of mountains that begin as lower foothills and then rise to greater heights the further into them you go, we would say high in the mountains. Plural, "mountains". The meaning is: farther into the mountain range where the mountains rise to greater heights. And when we wish to refer to a specific location on a single mountain, we would use singular "mountain" and "on": The hut was situated high on the mountain. – TRomano Feb 9 at 14:05
  • ok, good I'll use " high in the mountains ", bear with me, please. is there any thing thing wrong by saying; there are a lot of fish species that live in the river\ that live in rivers. (generally speaking) – Adam Jordan Feb 9 at 16:20
  • In that particular example, species that live in rivers (plural without article) is the better choice, since species that live in the river doesn't have the meaning "river species". It is not always possible to give an absolute rule that works in every instance. While In the city, children often play in the street is an idiomatic generalization about urban life, and does not refer to any particular city or any particular street, Many fish live in the river is not an idiomatic generalization about river species, at least not without further context, since river is not ubiquitous – TRomano Feb 9 at 16:36
  • ... or universal. But we could say In the jungle, many species live in the canopy since all jungles have a tree canopy. But we can't say In the jungle, many species live in the river since not all jungles have a river. The statement would be idiomatic if it were referring to a particular jungle with a river. – TRomano Feb 9 at 16:37

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