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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > use of articles    

use of articles

United States

use of articles
Dear Friends, I cam across this text in wiki (or some other internet source, perhaps)

The Republic of Belarus is in the heart of Europe, at the crossroads of trade routes from West to East, and from North to South.

Tell me why are there no articles in front of West East North South?
Is that a mistake or some idiomatic phrase?

8 Dec 2010      


No mistake. Why I �m not perfectly sure, but it I know we can use them this way. Consider other examples like "Go west, young man." "The Mississippi River flows south." and such. It may depend on how you parse the sentence as well. The trade route (go) from west to east and from north to south. If you were to say they go from the west to the east it seems to imply (at least to me) that they begin and end at the borders of Belarus as well (which would make no sense).

Hope that helps.

8 Dec 2010     

Czech Republic

I agree with tastybrain... If "west" is a direction, there is no need of an article...
from west to east...
or there are no articles in some names eg. Elisabeth Gaskell �s book called "North and South".
We travelled to the North (to the northern part of the country...)
North & South

8 Dec 2010     

alien boy

I feel that in this example West, East, North & South (note the capitalization) are not specifically directions so much as an abstract idea of a destination. East would commonly imply Asia, West would imply Western Europe (& often America, but as it is not connected by a land route to Belarus, I don �t think that is how I would read it in this instance), North maybe Scandinavia and South maybe the Baltic states, Mediterranean, Africa & Near/Middle East.

In tastybrain �s example of �go west, young man �, I believe the original quotation uses a capital W as it refers to the expansion of the USA to the West from the East & the opportunity for new wealth & adventure.

With regard to �the �... you can use the article for directions and it may also be applicable to certain proper nouns. If it was meant to mean within the borders of Belarus is might be written �West Belarus �, �west Belarus � or �western Belarus �.

If I have the opportunity later this morning I �ll add a post about �the � with regard to north, south , east, west as directions & proper nouns.


8 Dec 2010