We always talk about the 8 parts of speech, but in reality, there are 9 parts of speech. The 9th part of speech is the article: the or a (an). I don’t know why we always say 8 parts of speech when there are 9. Perhaps it’s because some languages don’t use articles. Mastering the use of articles seems to be particularly tricky for people whose first language is Chinese or Russian.
One of my east Asian clients asked the following question:
I have a question on the reason why a definite article is not used when it would be reasonable in a sequence of the following sentences, which I came across when reading a paperback copy of Michael J. Sandel’s “JUSTICE” published by Penguin Books in 2010.
1. (Page 85, line 3-5) Consider another civic responsibility—jury duty. No one dies performing jury duty, but being called to serve on a jury can be onerous, especially if it conflicts with work or other pressing commitments.
2. (on the same page, line 11-13) Allowing a busy person to get out of jury duty by hiring a substitute would make both parties better off. Doing away with mandatory jury duty would be better still;
My question is why the word combination “jury duty” is used like a proper noun (phrase). I have learned that a word which has been mentioned before should be with a definite article. So, the second or later instance of “jury duty” in the above examples should be with a definite article, like “the jury duty” or “the mandatory jury duty.”
Could you explain why the author did not use the article?
We often do not use an article with the name of an activity, unless it is a specific instance of an activity.