In general nouns are preceded by an article. But there are exceptions. In some cases no article is used. When no article is used, we call that the zero article.
„Dort stehen Autos.“
„Hast du Stifte mitgebracht?“
Like in English there is no plural of the indefinite article ⇒ Unspecified things get no articles if they are plural (= Zero Article).
„Ich arbeite mit dem arroganten Max.“
Materials and substances means things like milk, paper, water, iron, gold,…
There are many rules that look quite complicated at first glance.
But: Most languages have a zero article. For example, the rules for the German and English zero article are 99% the same. German is different from Latin languages in that they have an indefinite plural article. But the rest is all the same! So check it in your own language. The rules are probably similar!
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