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    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 26

    Unhappy 'the students or students'


    I am currently working on a Teacher's Book for junior high Chinese students learning English as a foreign language. The Teacher's Book incorporates the Student's Book page by page. So, for every step, the instructions will ask students to do a certain thing, e.g., In pairs, students play the game. Give students time to study section A. Students draw a picture and write a caption.

    One of the teachers reviewing this book raised a question: Do we need to add 'the' before 'students'? Obviously, we are asking students that the teachers who teach with this book to do what is required. They are defined. Therefore, grammatically, it would seem better to have 'the' before 'students'. However, while reading these sentences with 'the' before 'students', it seems rather awkward. I asked three native speakers (one from the UK and the other two from the US) but they seem to have different views. One said 'the' is not necessary; another insist on having 'the'; another said it depends. It seems there is no definite answer.

    However, this problem has been troubled me a lot because I am facing these sentences day in and day out and they seem to be torturing me. Can anyone give me a definite answer? Give your reasons please. Quotations from authentic textbook writers would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks a lot.
    Last edited by philipwei; 01-Nov-2006 at 08:19. Reason: correction

  1. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552

    Re: 'the students or students'

    When giving instructions of this nature, it is acceptable (but not necessary) to leave out the definite article. It does make the text sound abrupt and impersonal, though, and I would personally prefer to keep the definite article.

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 163

    Wink Re: 'the students or students'

    using "the" depends on the specifity of the context, or how specific you wish to be. When you say "the students" you are actually saying "the students in your class," whereas using just "students" will mean students in general, including the ones who may be in your class.

    As an example, when saying something that applies to all students generally:
    Students need interesting activities to break the monotony of a long class.

    and specifically:
    The students will need a ballpoint pen as well as a normal one to take this test.
    however, the people who say that it doesnt really matter are usually right. The context of a textbook will usually adjust the understanding of the teacher so that they automatically understand that the students in question are students who are in their class.

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