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  1. #1
    vpriest is offline Newbie
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    Definite Article

    Hi,

    (A) The target score varies depending on the level.
    (B) The target score varies depending on level.
    (C) The target score varies depending on the class level.
    (D) The target score varies depending on class level.

    When do we use the article and when do we not and why?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by vpriest; 21-Jan-2021 at 13:26.

  2. #2
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Re: Definite Article

    Quote Originally Posted by vpriest View Post
    Hi,

    (A) The target score varies depending on the level.
    (B) The target score varies depending on level.
    (C) The target score varies depending on the class level.
    (D) The target score varies depending on class level.

    When do we use the article and when do we not and why?

    Thanks.
    It's not always clearcut. All of the above are correct and mean the same thing.

    B and D are good because they're concise.

    In A and C, using the makes sense because they parallel The target score. You can Google parallelism.

    There are general guides to using articles, but I doubt there are universal rules. It sometimes just depends on the speaker's habits.

    But I'm not a teacher. Lets see what they say.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  3. #3
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Definite Article

    If this is a question about article usage in general, it is a very big question, to which I'll try to give a short but inevitably incomplete answer based on the context given.

    In my view, as Charlie Bernstein hints at in his point about parallelism, the reference of the definite article in the level is to some extent primed by the use of a definite article in The target score. That is to say that where there's specific reference to the target score, then there is more likely to be specific reference to the level. This is, however, not to say that option B is not possible or natural. The difference between C and D is identical to that between A and B so we can discount those variations.

    One way I think I can clarify my point here is by also removing the reference from the former noun phrase, to yield:

    Target score varies depending on level.

    To repeat my point again, it isn't that a speaker can't make one noun phrase indefinite and the other definite—it would not be unnatural to say:

    Target score varies depending on the level.

    However, I think that generally speaking it's more likely that a speaker would make both noun phrases indefinite or both definite.

  4. #4
    vpriest is offline Newbie
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    Re: Definite Article

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Target score varies depending on level.

    To repeat my point again, it isn't that a speaker can't make one noun phrase indefinite and the other definite—it would not be unnatural to say:

    Target score varies depending on the level.

    However, I think that generally speaking it's more likely that a speaker would make both noun phrases indefinite or both definite.
    Isn't target score a countable noun needing an article?

  5. #5
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Definite Article

    It isn't countable if you don't use an article, no.

  6. #6
    vpriest is offline Newbie
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    Re: Definite Article

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    It isn't countable if you don't use an article, no.
    I tried to search for it but failed. The ones I saw all say countable. What should I search for?

  7. #7
    Piscean is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Definite Article

    I believe that target score is a countable noun in that sentence. The definite article has simply been omitted, as it has with level in two of your sentences.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

  8. #8
    vpriest is offline Newbie
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    Re: Definite Article

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I believe that target score is a countable noun in that sentence. The definite article has simply been omitted, as it has with level in two of your sentences.
    What should I look for?
    Having hard time even with "omission of articles"

  9. #9
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Definite Article

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I believe that target score is a countable noun in that sentence. The definite article has simply been omitted, as it has with level in two of your sentences.
    I see it quite differently. I don't think 'countable/uncountable' is quite the right terminology to use, so I'll retract my implication that it is. I consider the variation of the utterance that lacks articles to be a more generalised statement than the one that uses them, in which sense there is a difference in meaning. The grammatical notion of countability aside, I believe this generalising effect of a zero article is common to how we conceive of those things we think about when we use uncountable nouns. In this respect, it isn't a simple omission.

    I would add though that I think that there could be written contexts where the writer simply wishes to omit definite articles for the sake of saving time/space/energy, in the way that we do in note form.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 21-Jan-2021 at 20:33.

  10. #10
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    Re: Definite Article

    Quote Originally Posted by vpriest View Post
    What should I look for?
    Having hard time even with "omission of articles"
    I'm not surprised. I don't think you'll find much on this, not outside of dense academic literature, at least. I hope I'm wrong, of course, and if I am, please let us know!

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