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  1. #1
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default the definite article

    Is there anything wrong with the sentence " A lot of research has been done on the human genome project at the Sangar Institute in the United Kingdom". ? What kind of proper nouns of organisations and institutions are normally preceded by the definite article? What are the major differences between US and British English on this point? How does the "Microsoft Corporation" differ from "Microsoft Corporation". Are there any strict rules regarding the use of the definite article with institutions and organisations? Since all the different kinds of Englishes have become coalesed into a "world English", can we simply ignore all these differences? Looking forward to an exhaustive answer...

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    Is there anything wrong with the sentence " A lot of research has been done on the human genome project at the Sangar Institute in the United Kingdom". ? What kind of proper nouns of organisations and institutions are normally preceded by the definite article? What are the major differences between US and British English on this point? How does the "Microsoft Corporation" differ from "Microsoft Corporation". Are there any strict rules regarding the use of the definite article with institutions and organisations? Since all the different kinds of Englishes have become coalesed into a "world English", can we simply ignore all these differences? Looking forward to an exhaustive answer...
    The sentence is fine - perfectly grammatical and with the correct use of "the".

    This is a good clear exposition of its application: English Grammar and Writing : English language courses, English Grammar Online

    In your sentence, #4 is the rule applied.

  3. #3
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    You use the definite article to denote something unique such as the moon the sun and the stars. Do you mean that you use the same thing when you refer to a building or a structure which is unique in a particular way? Cambridge University and (the)Sangar Institute are more or less the same when it comes to grammar,that is to say both are place proper names and belong to the same category. Both are unique because there is only one such university and only one such institute. One grammatical rule in Michael Swan's book states that we do not normally use the definite article when the name of a structure or building is preceded by the name of a person or a place and when it is treated as a whole. I have checked a great many Internet articles relating to (the) Sangar Institute and the thing I have discovered is that people are at a loss about whether or not to use the definite article before the institute . There are people who tend to use it with the definite article while some other people tend to omit it. Else where somebody has written to me that the very fact that these things are unique dispenses with use of the definite article before them all together. Please comment.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Why not ask the source? Is it -er or -ar?

    The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

  5. #5
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Mr Soup,
    You are right. My spelling often goes wrong. Anyway, the matter I am trying to bring home to other people is that a lot of people use the definite article along with the Sanger Institute. On the other hand, there are hosts of people who omit the article before the name of the institute. If you take a casual look at the many articles that appear on the Internet regarding the institute, you will definitely bear testimony to the fact that a foreign learner is puzzled about whether to use the definite aritcle before the name of the institute or not. I must admit that this is not a unique case because before most place proper names preceded by the name of a person or place English people use the definite article on a fifty-fifty basis. I have often seen people use the definite article before the name of Oxford University, which is gramatically erroneous. However, owing to the fact that there are a lot of different varieties of English used in the world, we are often at a loss about which to take as a model. The unpleasant situation of foreign learners is complicated by the fact that there are more exceptions in the language than rules.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    ... proper names preceded by the name of a person or place English people use the definite article on a fifty-fifty basis.
    There is a pattern. Take a look at its distribution; Cf. Baikonur Cosmodrome

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    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    Mr Soup,
    You are right. My spelling often goes wrong. Anyway, the matter I am trying to bring home to other people is that a lot of people use the definite article along with the Sanger Institute. On the other hand, there are hosts of people who omit the article before the name of the institute. If you take a casual look at the many articles that appear on the Internet regarding the institute, you will definitely bear testimony to the fact that a foreign learner is puzzled about whether to use the definite aritcle before the name of the institute or not.
    balakrishnanijk, we Chinese have an old saying, "If you believe anything you have read, it may as well be better not to read." I think this saying is still applied to our present attitude in learning. There is no denying that the internet is a valuable source for us to find the solution to our questions. However, its accuracy and reliability are sometimes questionable. We must be cautious; or we may be misled as in your case.
    (not a teacher)
    Last edited by albertino; 27-Sep-2007 at 01:38.

  8. #8
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Mr Soup says that there are two patterns.
    Which of them is grammatical and acceptable?

  9. #9
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by First, proper names are specific enough, so they don't require an article. Which is why, for example, this phrase [I
    the Cambridge University[/i] sounds odd if left unmodified. Modify it, though, and it works;e.g., Are we talking about the Cambridge University I attended?

    Second, from what I can tell based on the distribution of this name Baikonur Cosmodrome, it appears that there are two ways to express it: [1] with an article when the facility itself is emphasized, and [2] without an article when the location, the place is emphasized:

    [1] The Baikonur Cosmodrome is the oldest and largest operational space launch facility in the world.

    [2] In 1957, some fifty years ago, the world's first artificial satellite, Suptnik-1, was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Since the launch, the Cosmodrome ...
    Excuse me. I am not a teacher. Allow me to steal the limelight of Soup.
    Grammatically speaking, an institution/a building with or without the definite article conveys different meaning. Please look at this,
    I go to school every day.(For studying - an activity or function associated with the real purpose of the noun "school"). But comapre:
    The parents go to the school to see the headmaster. (Just go to the building(the school) for an interview, not to go there for the school's real purpose(studying and learning) - an activity or function not associated with the noun.

    In the example (1) given by Soup, "The Baikonur Cosmodrome" is only a description of the building itself. The mention of it has nothing to do with its real function or activity associated with the Cosmodrome. Therefore, we use the definite article for differentiation.

    However, in the example (2), here, the mention of Baikonur Cosmodrome is associated with its genuine purpose and activity, the launch of an artificial satellite, so we omit the definite article.

    This is my humble idea, and I hope that this can help you to draw the teachers here to say something more about that.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cosmodrome.jpg   baikonur_r7_movie_3.jpg  
    Last edited by albertino; 29-Sep-2007 at 04:55.

  10. #10
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    I have often seen people use the definite article before the name of Oxford University, which is gramatically erroneous.
    You're right, balakrishnanijk. Have a look at this for the reason:
    Q. Should we put "the" in front of any college's or university's name? For example, at (the) University of Delaware
    A. One of the functions of "the" is preparing a reader/listener for information that will distinguish what immediately follows it. In the case of the University of Delaware, "the" indicates that "University" will be distinguished by "of Delaware." On the other hand, if "University" is distinguished by a name preceding it, for example "Delaware State University," there is no need to prepare the reader/listener, so "the" is not used.

    Source:ELI Grammar Hotline -- Articles

    (not a teacher)

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