It's very common in Hiberno-English, probably as a result of native Irish speakers being forced to learn English. Some examples:
"It's a shame the summer's over."
"Ah yeah, sure the autumn's turning out to be grand."
"I'm not looking forward to the winter, though."
"Thank Christ the spring's here. I thought the winter would never end."
Not necessarily, I would say "It's a shame that summer's over." "Yes, autumn's turning out to be great." "I'm not looking forward to winter, though." "Thank God, spring's here. I thought winter would never end." If I wanted to be specific, I would likely say "This autumn's turning out to be great!" You could use "the" or not.
In the USA, that has not been my experience. In spoken language, we try to cut as many corners as possible. In poetry you might see "the" used more. "Winter is over!", "Spring has sprung!" and "Summer has almost begun!" "Autumn will come after that." For us, these are "names" of seasons. You sound quite stiff and formal when you use "the" as if you were writing a thesis about the season. "In the winter, the wildlife is harder to find, as many animals are hibernating." So you will hear it this way on nature channels. So, what part of the US are you from?
My experience with US English is as a native speaker of many decades. I don’t always use an article with seasons — I’d say “Spring has sprung!”, and “Autumn will come after that.” without articles, but I’d say “The winter is over!” and “The summer has almost begun!” with articles.
My question is what part of the US are you from? You do not have to give me an address, but I am wondering if you are from New England or the South or what region, please? Even if you are born and raised here in the USA, like I was, are your parents Irish? Did you major in English? I am not saying you are wrong to use the article, but it does date you a bit. It just means that you are viewing "the winter" and "the summer" as very specific instances of those seasons rather than as a season that comes and goes. "Summer is almost here!"
If you say "I like the spring." that does not mean that you like that season. It means that you like a particular instance of spring, so now I want to know which spring do you like? It doesn't really work here if you mean that you like the season which has a name, then you should say "I like spring." If you use "the" then there should be a limiting modifier. You could at least say "The harsh winter is over." You could say "I like the spring in which the bluebird nested in my backyard.", but as a general thing that you like: "I like spring." They are probably accepting "I like the spring." for people who speak Hiberno English. So, the real question here is: Would you say "I like the spring." ?
This guide might help other people about when not to use "the": http://www.englishteachermelanie.com/grammar-when-not-to-use-the-definite-article/
I’m originally from the west, but most of my years have been in the east. Both my parents and I were born and raised in the US. Neither my parents nor I majored in English.
I am not saying you are wrong to use the article, but it does date you a bit. It just means that you are viewing "the winter" and "the summer" as very specific instances of those seasons rather than as a season that comes and goes. "Summer is almost here!"
If you say "I like the spring." that does not mean that you like that season. It means that you like a particular instance of spring […]
Given my age, I could well be dated. When I say “I like the spring”, it does mean that I like that season, so in fact you are saying that I would be wrong to use the article. If I were referring only to the current spring, I’d say “I like this spring”. In a written context, if I were using “spring” as a name, I’d capitalize it without an article — “I like Spring.”
If you use "the" then there should be a limiting modifier.
Would you say the same of “I like the theater”, meaning “I like to attend theatrical performances”?
Yes, I would say "I like theater." It is a generalization for which we do not use definite articles. If I said "I like the theater." , then I would be talking about a specific theater. Now, I know that on the East Coast, people do have a tendency to say "the theater" to indicate just how special it is and they are referring to the entire form of entertainment, as opposed to some other form of entertainment. That is exactly why I was asking for some indication of where you were used to listening to English. I am saying that "I like spring." is very common over here and that your experience that "the" is used more often is not my experience. People do it as it is a way of saying "the season of spring" rather than some other season. I don't do that. Imagine if we did that for everything. I like the baseball. (as opposed to any other sport) People are more likely to think you are talking about a particular baseball rather than the sport. So you could specify "I like the sport of baseball." If I wanted to do as you do, I would say "I like the season of spring.", but it sounds strange now to say "I like the spring." We just know that some people of earlier generations were doing that. So it depends on the earlier question, if someone asked "What form of entertainment do you like?" I know that some people would answer "the theater". It is a way of making that form of entertainment seem more special than other forms of entertainment. "I like theater. I like comedy and I like drama. I like musicals. I even like opera. I like languages too. I like spring.
I like winter. I like summer. I even like autumn."
It is a generalization for which we do not use definite articles.
So which “we” did you mean here?
Yes, it is special to use a definite article when you are not talking about something definite.
No — it can be special, but it isn’t always special. I’ve already provided examples where it is not special.
You impart extra meaning to the words "the water" if you mean aquatic recreation. then you have made it special. So perhaps our definition of special is different? When you say "the theater", you also have the extra meaning of the entire form of entertainment shown in theaters. I have agreed that some people do use "the" with words that are not definite, but I have simply disagreed that it is more common to use the definite article with "spring" when not following a preposition these days, and I even said, at least in my area. Look it up! Searches for "the spring" keep showing me definite uses or show me spring without "the", because I searched for "the spring" images came up with "the spring" but when I clicked on it the only thing with "the spring" was an organization with that name. http://www.bing.com/search?q=the%20spring=n==8-10=BDKTMS=BDT3==0000=en-US When I personally hear "the spring", the first thing that comes to mind is a particular spring of water or a particular coil or spring that is elastic or metal (such as in a device or bed). http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spring
Would you say "I like money." as a generalization? How about "I like Christmas."? http://linguapress.com/grammar/article-in-english.htm
You are right that some people do use "the" with seasons in a general statement. See this interesting forum discussion: https://www.englishforums.com/English/ArticlesWithSeasons/cwczz/post.htm
I know with prepositions I don't mind the definite article, but after the verb "like" is when I particularly have an aversion to using "the" with the season. I did mention that I am from California. We includes the people I grew up with, went to school with, work with, etc. Remember we were talking each from our own experiences.
Even in the following article they just say "spring" without the definite article unless it is in a prepositional phrase or when there is another noun following it.
I am saying that you won't usually hear people say "The winter is over.", not in California, for sure. Is your experience with US English from written sources? For us, these are names of seasons, kind of like the names of months. I don't doubt that it used to be different. Many books written earlier, do use "the". With a preposition you will hear it. "in the winter", but by itself "The winter" sounds a bit pretentious. You must be talking about a specific winter, but you are not really specifying anything about it. "The winter of the great snowfall" is fine. "The summer after I graduated..." is also fine. http://www.englishclub.narod.ru/grammar/grammar_4_5.htm
It is even worse for months if you want to be specific you have to say "this May" or "last May" or "the May of 1990" giving a year, otherwise you can say "in the month of May" or just "in May". We don't have to say "in the season of winter", thank goodness! We can however say "this winter", "last winter" and "the winter of 1990". When I see "the" with a season, I want to know which one you are talking about. If you are just talking about the one we just ended, then I am wondering why you didn't just say "Winter is over."
Yes, I would say "I like theater." It is a generalization for which we do not use definite articles.
Which “we” do you mean? Would you also say “I like water” to mean “I like aquatic recreation”? I’d say “I like the water” for that meaning.
Now, I know that on the East Coast, people do have a tendency to say "the theater" to indicate just how special it is […]
I disagree with your reasoning. I don’t consider the theater to be special (I’m not a fan of it), but I still say “the theater”. Similarly, I don’t consider “I like the water” to indicate any sort of specialness compared to dry land, and I’d say “I need to go to the hospital” despite referring to no particular hospital. Would you say “I need to go to hospital”, as (at least) Britons do?
Imagine if we did that for everything.
Why? I’d already noted above that I don’t do that for everything.
I would generally use 'the' before naming a season, however what I've noticed is no capitalisation of the season's name. I was taught in English to always capitalise the names of the seasons. I was also taught how to handle it in Irish but have completely forgotten and it would have a bearing on how to handle t- prefixes like 't-earrach' (which Duo uses) which my instincts want to see as t-Earrach or tEarrach or somesuch. However if the seasons were never capitalised in Irish... I just can't remember.
I know the convention in English has shifted, at least in Ireland and England, because younger people seem happy to use lowercase for the seasons. Has the same happened in Irish?