Written Apr 13, 2019
A Small Word Before a Countable Noun
Some people learning English habitually omit a "small word" when they speak or write a singular noun or noun phrase.
In more than 95% of cases, a singular countable noun or noun phrase should be preceded by one of the following “small” words: [a, an, the, this, that, my, your, his, her, one’s, our, their].
For example, “It’s a big dog”; not, “It’s big dog”; "go to the train station" not, "go to train station"
A “noun phrase” includes:
i) an [adjectives + noun combination] such as, “an old man”, "a big dog", “a growing trend” and,
ii) a compound noun such as, “a swimming pool”, “a car park” and “a shopping centre”.
Verbal nouns (gerunds) do not follow this rule because a verbal noun represents a type of activity and these are non-count. Examples of verbal nouns are, “swimming”, “sleeping”, “eating”, “shopping” etc. So we do not say, “I like the swimming.” Instead, we just say, “I like swimming.”
If you often omit the "small word", I suggest you correctly write several of these word combinations (i.e. preceded by one of these "small words") on a piece of paper and repeatedly speak them out in order to develop the habit.
You also need to understand, as much as you can, how the rather difficult word, "the" is used. See HERE.