Learn English – Omission of definite articles before abstract nouns


I was going through the Grammarly blog about indefinite articles and its usage and the writer used this to exemplify the omission of articles:

Incorrect: The creativity is a valuable quality in children.

Correct: Creativity is a valuable quality in children.

I don't understand why that rule doesn't apply to a sentence like "The creativity that man had was eccentric", because it certainly doesn't sound right to say "Creativity that man had was eccentric."
Is that an exception or a completely different thing?

Best Answer

The absence of the article isn't because the noun is abstract but because it is a noncount noun, though many abstract nouns are noncount nouns. We treat nouncount nouns like they're plural as far as using articles is concerned but then treat them like they're singular for verb conjugation.

Count Noun Examples:

Singular: "A smile is icing on the cake."

  • indefinite article "a"
  • singular verb conjugation "is"

Plural: "Smiles are icing on the cake."

  • no indefinite article
  • plural verb conjugation "are"

Noncount Noun Example:

Noncount: "Smiling is icing on the cake."

  • no indefinite article — like the plural example above
  • singular verb conjugation "is" — like the singular example above