Consider the examples below:

  1. What was the answer to question 4?
  2. What was the answer to the question 4?

I'm sure that the definite article in the sentence 1 is used correctly. My question is that can we use the definite article before the word question? Or if we can't, why? Because the question 4 is definite. I don't understand why the definite article isn't used in the sentence 1.

  • We ordinarily treat designations like Question No. 4 or Figure C or Chapter 14 Room 2347 as names, because just like personal names they designate entities which are unique in the current discourse context. Such names do not take definite articles. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 10 '16 at 22:55
  • @StoneyB Would you consider posting your answer in the answer section rather than the comment section? :-) – snailplane Sep 10 '16 at 23:10
  • @snailplane I was pretty sure this had been addressed somewhere before ... – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 10 '16 at 23:23