ICAO Structure Level 6: ‘Zero Article’ in general and aviation English

‘A’, ‘An’ and ‘The” are the examples of the definite and indefinite articles used in the English language. When should those articles be omitted in general English? What are the rules of the conscious use of ‘zero article’ in terms of English for aviation? I’ll give you my answer in the paragraphs below.

What is ‘Zero Article’?

‘Zero article’ “refers to noun phrases that contain no articles, definite or indefinite.” It means we intentionally omit ‘a’, ‘an’ or ‘the’ in some cases.

ICAO Level 6 structure

When is ‘the’ Article Omitted in General English?

Before certain noun phrases, ‘the’ and other articles aren’t used. This is the list of these cases (some of them may contain tiny little exceptions but they’re not stated here):

  • Before the proper nouns, which are “the name of a particular person, place, or object that is spelled with a capital letter” (Cambridge Online Dictionary): Aretha Franklin, Ford Mustang, Oreo;
  • Before the names of sports, games, activities, days, months, holidays, colors, drinks, meals and languages;
  • Before the names of most countries: France, Vietnam, Argentina;
  • Before the names of cities: Bangkok, Calgary;
  • Before the names of streets: 5th Avenue, 11 Downing Street;
  • Before the names of parks: Central Park;
  • Before the names of individual mountains: Mount Everest, Annapurna I;
  • Before the names of lakes: Lake Garda, Lake Ontario;
  • Before the names of continents: Africa;
  • Before the names of possessive adjectives: This is my car.
  • Before the names whose first word is the name of a person or place: Indira Gandhi International Aiport, Edinburgh Castle;
  • Before the means of transport: by car, by bus, etc.

When is ‘Zero Article’ Used in Aviation English?

Some of those rules that I listed above can be easily applied to aviation English, therefore, let’s add them to the list here:


What are your biggest problems when you’re trying to learn English grammar? Let me know in the comments below or via e-mail. This article aims to help everyone who pointed English articles as one of the most problematic areas of self-study.  Make sure you check my other valuable articles on other ICAO requirements, such as “Top Mispronounced Aviation English Words”, “What is Fluency” or “How to Describe Pictures During an ICAO Exam.”

Grammar and the improvement of ICAO article structures