Brands are common…Nouns that is

Brands are common…Nouns that is

Car commercials bother me. The automotive industry is the only industry I know of that violates the “natural” use of articles. Remember articles – the, a, and an. There are others. But these are the common articles. Articles are used to “specify grammatical definiteness”, e.g. “I want a car” vs. “I want the car”. I don’t want to get bogged down in boring grammar rules (too late?), but most native English speakers intuitively know when to use the appropriate article… except those working in the automotive industry.

Imagine for a minute, you’re talking with a friend who just bought a new truck, and she tells you about her shopping experience… “My husband and I were initially interested in Silverado because of the great reviews. After we drove Ram, we couldn’t decide between the two. In the end, we bought Raptor.” Odd right? No native speaker talks like that… except for those working in the automotive industry.

Next time you see a car commercial on TV, listen to how they use, or don’t use, articles. Most car companies do not use articles in their TV spots. “Check out Mustang at your local Ford dealer…”. The only explanation can be that the car makers or their agencies (or both) think the cars are so special, that they’ve elevated them to “proper noun” status. We usually don’t use an article – definite or indefinite – with a proper noun. Imagine hearing: “The Steve is coming over later”. Okay admittedly, that makes me want meet Steve. But you get the point. Occasionally we’ll add “the” to a proper noun if trying to emphasis the significance or our confidence in the information, e.g. “The Matt Daemon” was here today”. In general, we know that a, an and the are to be used with “common nouns”.

It seems that the car companies can not accept that their products are common. They want them to be seen as special… proper even. It just doesn’t work that way. Ford has sold over eight million Mustangs. We can’t buy Mustang. We can buy a Mustang. One Mustang. One of eight million Mustangs… from Ford.

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