azhong wrote:Why is English so elusive for a foreign language learner, a sentence without the being natural in the former group while "slightly less natural" in the latter group by merely slightly changing spirits for ghosts? Any possible rules to follow?
“Spirits” doesn’t appear in any of the sentences.
For me, it’s the qualifying phrase “of the dead” which makes a difference. If it were just “ghosts”, it would be exactly parallel to “angels”. That is, the unmarked version would be “talks to ghosts” and “talks to the ghosts” would imply specific ghosts. And if you added a qualifying phrase to “angels”, then it would change how I felt about it with and without the article.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons