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  1. #1
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    the outer coating of (the) teeth

    The cause of tooth decay in human beings is a bacterium that feeds on the sugar in our food. It digests the sugar more easily by converting it into an acid. The acid then dissolves the enamel, the outer coating of the (?)teeth, and finally attacks the living nerve within. The result is the agonizing pain we know as toothache.

    Is the underlined definite article in the example above really needed?

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: the use of articles

    It's not absolutely necessary but it reads better with it.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Re: the use of articles

    I think 'the teeth' refers to 'the teeth on which the enamel is'.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. #4
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the use of articles

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    I think 'the teeth' refers to 'the teeth on which the enamel is'.
    I understand "teeth" in the given context as "all human teeth", not in a particular human's mouth. I can't say I see any difference between the example sentence and the definition in the dictionary (http://www.macmillandictionary.com/d...ish/enamel_1): enamel - the hard white outer layer of teeth.



  5. #5
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Re: the use of articles

    In the dictionary, enamel is the hard white outer layer of teeth.
    In your context, the enamel is the outer coating of the teeth which the author is talking about.

    That's how I understand it.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. #6
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Re: the use of articles

    Please note that I have changed your thread title.

    Extract from the Posting Guidelines:

    'Thread titles should include all or part of the word/phrase being discussed.'

  7. #7
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the use of articles

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    In your context, the enamel is the outer coating of the teeth which the author is talking about.
    The cause of tooth decay in human beings... That's how the text starts. The author is talking about the teeth in human beings (i.e. in general).

  8. #8
    tzfujimino's Avatar
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    Re: the use of articles

    When I read the text, I had a mental image of something like this:
    https://youtu.be/_oIlv59bTL4

    I think I agree with Matthew - "the teeth" refers to those dissolved by the acid.

  9. #9
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the use of articles

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    When I read the text, I had a mental image of something like this:
    https://youtu.be/_oIlv59bTL4

    I think I agree with Matthew - "the teeth" refers to those dissolved by the acid.
    Well, I think I'm beginning to understand.

    On one hand we have the sentence "The acid then dissolves the enamel, the outer coating of the teeth, and finally attacs the living nerve within", which could be rephrased as "The acid then dissolves the enamel (the enamel is the outer coat of teeth if you didn't know), and finally attacks the nerve within". The enamel = the outer coating of teeth. To me, the very definition from macmillan dictionary.

    On the other hand (provided I've understood you correctly), even while speaking about things in general, it appears to be more natural to talk about them as if they were just a particular example (the mental image you had while reading the text). Am I beginning to see the light? Or not?


  10. #10
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Re: the use of articles

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    to talk about them as if they were just a particular example (the mental image you had while reading the text).
    I think 'the teeth', the particular example, were in the writer's head (imagination).
    I am not a teacher.

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