To clarify, pre-positional articles are the articles positioned before a noun they refer to, like English the or a(n).

Post-positional articles are those positioned after a noun they refer to, like Swedish -en/-ett, or -na in en skog => skogen (forest => the forest), ett barn =>barnet (a child => the child), Romanian -l/-le in codru => codrul (forest => the forest), or Bulgarian -ът /-та / -то / -те, e.g. гора = гората (forest => the forest), etc.

If we look at the languages which have pre-positional articles (not to be confused with languages with articles merged into prepositions, like French du, or Italian della) but which have no post-positional articles, then we notice that these languages also have zero articles.

In English, the zero articles are used with mass noun singular.

In French, the zero article (or article zéro) serves to denote 'neither massive nor countable' non-partitive noun (which, to my understanding, is somewhat similar to that of Sumerian types of plural).

In Spanish, the zero article (or artículo cero) stands for non-possessivness (?) and group partitive.

Dutch also has zero articles, although it is difficult to find any reliable work on this topic.

What is the situation with prepositional zero articles in other languages?

  • 1
    Once again, this is not at all clear. Articles do not modify prepositions; so what could "prepositional zero articles" possibly mean? In any language?
    – jlawler
    Apr 9 '13 at 21:25
  • First, I think you mean bare prepositional phrases. I've been doing some research on this, so let me tell you a couple of things: 1. You'll find a lot more literature under the label 'bare nominals'. 2. There's plenty of reliable work on this topic for Dutch. It would be good for you to look for Kale Naamwoorden or just Dutch bare nominals. You'll find a lot of sources. 3. As for bare PPs, you could start with this and this.
    – edominic
    Apr 9 '13 at 21:42
  • There's also the usage intransitive prepositions, which is a common way to look at the "particle" in phrasal verbs, along with various adverbial uses.
    – jlawler
    Apr 9 '13 at 22:54
  • From the title I assumed that "prepositional articles" meant contractions of a preposition and an article, like du in French, am in German and no in Portuguese; but the question doesn't seem to refer to them. I don't understand the question at all.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 10 '13 at 0:39
  • 1
    @Manjusri: Yes, that's what you said before. But you still haven't told us what you think "prepositional zero articles" means. It doesn't mean anything to me, so I can't help you, I'm afraid.
    – jlawler
    Apr 10 '13 at 21:46

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