Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    jhelum is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    13
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default When to use "THE" before plural nouns?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm very confused about the use of "the" before nouns in their plural forms, such as in these sentences:

    "The higher levels of the buildings in the district are mostly used as flats."

    "The trees, the grass, along with the people passing by, form a lovely scenery."

    Are these "the" required or should be deleted, or can be either used or omitted?
    Last edited by jhelum; 04-Jun-2013 at 13:53.

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    17,394
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: When to use "THE" before plural nouns?

    They are needed. They indicate to the reader that you are talking about specific levels (the higher ones), specific buildings (the ones in this district), and trees, grass, and people in this particular place.

    You can omit the "the" only when you are talking about the entire class of things.
    Dogs are popular pets.
    Bicycles are becoming a popular way to get to work.

    Compared to:
    The dogs in this picture are playing poker.
    The bicycles in this shop are expensive, but they come with life-time repairs.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    jhelum is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    13
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: When to use "THE" before plural nouns?

    Thanks for your reply Barb_D, but according to what you have said, should not the sentence in your post be like this:

    "They indicate to the reader that you are talking about the specific levels (the higher ones), the specific buildings (the ones in this district), and the trees, the grass, and the people in this particular place."
    Last edited by jhelum; 04-Jun-2013 at 14:23.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,881
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: When to use "THE" before plural nouns?

    Quote Originally Posted by jhelum View Post
    Thanks for your reply Barb_D, but according to what you have said, should not the sentence in your post be like this:

    "They indicate to the reader that you are talking about the specific levels (
    the higher ones), the specific buildings (the ones in this district), and the trees, the grass, and the people in this particular place."
    Barb's gone, so I'll have a go. You'll note that there is a 'the' in the two parenthetical phrases after the first two examples. Concerning specific levels in general, the speaker is talking about the higher levels in particular. In the trees sentence, it's not necessary to specify which trees using "the" because the specification comes in "in this particular place). So all the specific indicators are actually there. However, 'the' could have been added as you've done, and I probably would have for the trees example.

  5. #5
    jhelum is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    13
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: When to use "THE" before plural nouns?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Barb's gone, so I'll have a go. You'll note that there is a 'the' in the two parenthetical phrases after the first two examples. Concerning specific levels in general, the speaker is talking about the higher levels in particular. In the trees sentence, it's not necessary to specify which trees using "the" because the specification comes in "in this particular place). So all the specific indicators are actually there. However, 'the' could have been added as you've done, and I probably would have for the trees example.
    Thanks for the explanation Raymott. So when a noun in its plural form has a specific indicator, such as saying "people in this place", is it acceptable or grammatically wrong to omit the "the"?

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,881
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: When to use "THE" before plural nouns?

    Quote Originally Posted by jhelum View Post
    Thanks for the explanation Raymott. So when a noun in its plural form has a specific indicator, such as saying "people in this place", is it acceptable or grammatically wrong to omit the "the"?
    It's really hard to generalise; there would be exceptions. Sometimes you need "the", eg. in "You'll find that the people in this place are helpful." would suggest that all are helpful, while "You'll find that people in this place are helpful." suggests only some or most of them.
    I can only suggest that you take note of examples like this when you're reading.

  7. #7
    jhelum is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    13
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: When to use "THE" before plural nouns?

    Thanks for your thorough explanation Raymott!

Similar Threads

  1. "are" or "is" for countable nouns in specific phrases
    By Pierce111 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 30-Dec-2012, 17:30
  2. "The dead", "The good" - plural?
    By Nightmare85 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 19-Jun-2010, 12:13
  3. [General] nouns whose ends are "o" should be followed by "es" or "s"
    By terrenziqq in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 29-Sep-2009, 21:26
  4. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 23-Nov-2006, 10:47
  5. "Any" followed by plural nouns
    By carol_0222 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-Jan-2006, 16:20

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •