I've been doing a research on articles, trying to create a set of reliable rules for my students and I've completed the major part of it, however, there still remain some inconsistencies with bare plural nouns (ofc they do) Here I want to talk solely about the plural nouns that are context-defined, implicitly defined, not the ones that are defined by adding words after the noun.
I looked at the car, the tires were flat (implicitly defined).
I looked at the car, the tires that Jack gave me for my last birthday were flat (explicitly defined).
So, here are the sentences for the discussion:
I opened a book and started looking through the pages.
(Pages are expected to be present in a book - "the" is preferable.)
I opened an excel document and started looking through cells.
(Cells are expected in an excel file, but "zero" is preferable, for some reason.)
I opened youtube and started looking through videos.
(Videos are expected to be on youtube, but again I think "zero" is preferable, no idea why.)
I opened a girl's instagram page and started looking through the photos.
(Photos are also expected to be on a person's instagram page, and I think "the" is preferable here.)
I came to a rocky beach and started looking through the stones.
(Stones also expected on a rocky beach and I think "the" is preferable.)
What's the best choice of articles in these sentences? (Since I'm not a native speaker I can't be sure.)
What patterns do you see in these examples? Suggest your ideas. Maybe it has to do with the perceived amount of an item? (maybe cells in a excel file are too many, or maybe they're a less obvious association and don't come to mind as easily when thinking about "an excel file".)
P.S. if you are going to provide examples, please avoid the examples with singular nouns and the ones with the noun explicitly defined by adding words, unless you're sure they are relevant to our discussion.
I was suggested that all the sentences should have "the" as the best choice of article.
I've remembered 3 other examples provided by a native speaker, in which he claimed "zero" is the preferable choice:
Could you please give your thoughts on the following cases:
- I went to Paris last year, I looked at _buildings, talked to _people, visited _museums
(buildings,people and museums are expected to be in Paris, should it be "the" or "zero"?) I believe if put "zero" we emphsasize the class/role of these nouns rather than the fact they were in Paris.
- The police entered the house and started searching _ rooms
(the rooms are expected in a building, but the native speaker suggested "zero", maybe to emphasize the police were searching "rooms" as opposed to "hallways", for example?
- I opened an excel file, and started filling in _ cells
(he suggested that "zero" is preferable, but maybe he meant it is just possible and not preferrable) Could you give your opinion on these examples?