Prejudice is still prevalent in this generation, and it is one of the engines that fuels the novel to transcend time with such popularity, affecting (the) people who suffered similar discrimination presented in the story.

I just do not know if I have to use the definite articles in the given position.

The use of definite article seems justified, for it is people who suffered similar discrimination out of all usual common people.

However, the use of zero article seems more adequate when I consider that I am referring to all people who suffered similar discrimination.

I think it is just from which perspective we frame this people.

But which one should I use?

  • I feel like you're missing part of the sentence... "suffered similar discrimination as is presented in the story." perhaps?
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:13
  • More context would be nice. Many times, the use of articles is dependent upon information found outside the sentence it is used in. Aug 9, 2016 at 0:02
  • I think it has something to do with the relative clause being a specified occurrence vs a generalization. "I want to kill the people who stole my bike." vs. "I don't trust people that have stolen bikes."
    – Leo
    Aug 9, 2016 at 4:21
  • @whitedevil Could you tell us what novel is reviewed in the text you cite here? Is the review itself available online? Aug 9, 2016 at 4:38

2 Answers 2


Sarah Costa, in a post at our sister site ELU, proposed a guideline which is germane here, and which I will gently paraphrase as:

Without a context that clarifies whether the sentence relates to a specific group, the zero article is preferred.

Her entire answer, and the question to which is a response, can be found here. The commentary following her answer is also of interest,

In this case, because the context does define a specific group, the sentence, under this guideline, should include the definite article.

  • It is just people in general who suffered similar discrimination that was presented in the story. So is it generalization? Or are we still specifying a group of people?
    – whitedevil
    Aug 9, 2016 at 13:39
  • @whitedevil People in the sentence refers to those readers who have suffered similarly to characters in the novel. That is a specific group; thus, the definite article. Aug 9, 2016 at 16:32
  • Do you think the indefinite article will pass?
    – whitedevil
    Aug 9, 2016 at 17:46
  • Or is it simply unacceptable?
    – whitedevil
    Aug 9, 2016 at 18:26
  • @whitedevil The indefinite article will not work here. The definite is called for. "A people" here would be understood as referring to "a people" such "the Russian people." People is a special case with many idiomatic uses. See this link. Aug 9, 2016 at 21:53

Maybe both are OK, but since you have defined the "people" as being a specific group "presented in the story", I would use the.

However, if you left off "presented in the story", and the "people" were not previously defined, I would not use the.

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