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without (a) trace?


It seems with or without 'a' are both okay here. For example: The ship vanished without (a) trace. But I'm thinking, can I also say: The ship vanished without a single trace.
I guess it's grammatically correct, but I'm not sure if this is how you natives would say.

Thank you!

Additional Details:

Thanks Azimux!

But the sentence 'The ship had vanished without (a) trace.' is from Oxford Advanced Learners' English Dictionary. This is exactly how it is printed, I mean with the brackets "(a)". So maybe it's logical to assume that 'without trace' is more of a British expression?
Hey, anyone from Britain?

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language


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    I don't think I've heard "without trace" without the "a", here I think it's always "without a trace." "Without trace" sounds odd to me.

    "Without a single trace" sounds fine and natural to me.


    without A trace sounds better but I think without the article is fine too...

    Most English speakers would say "without a trace"


    Here's one way to understand the difference:

    "Without a trace/without a single trace" - pretty much the same thing. Not a single piece of evidence could be found. Adding "single" just emphasises this.

    "Without trace" - again, without evidence but in the general sense. "The ship vanished without (any) trace." We're not being specific or emphatic by adding "a" or "a single", the ship simply vanished.

    ...and Tracy is still waiting at the dock side. She is well disappointed.

    Both are correct.
    However, I think that because the word 'trace' can be used as both a concrete noun and abstract noun, it can be used with and without the article 'a'.
    If it is used as a concrete noun (= object, something that shows that the ship existed before), therefore we should use 'a' (without a trace).
    If it is used just as an abstract noun (= the general sense, as Peachey stated) like in 'HE vanished without trace', therefore we can use it without 'a'.
    What do you think???

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