"I cannot here provide the mass of the anthropological evidence of the universality, nor that of the psychophysiological evidence supporting the theory presented in my book"

I have added the definite articles in bold. How does the sentence change? I'm not really good at using articles so I'm asking this.

  • Can you give us more context for this sentence, like the entire paragraph? It would help to understand the meaning. – stangdon Oct 11 '16 at 12:01
  • What research have you done? – green_ideas Sep 29 '17 at 21:38

Although not enough information is provided, still we can do some analysis on it.

Case 1: "the anthropological evidence of universality"

This sentence would be okay as the postmodification "of universality" makes "anthropological evidence" definite. I know which anthropological evidence you are referring. So it would be okay to do that.

Case 2: "the anthropological evidence of the universality"

It may or may not be okay. Obviously, the universality is not some general knowledge that everyone is supposed to know. So you can't use a definite directly. You must mention it before you can use a definite article. It is called anaphoric reference.


If you add your articles, the statement no longer makes sense.
The important phrase is

evidence of universality

to say

evidence of the universality

would mean there is a singular universality, without further context it does not make sense.

mass of the anthropological evidence

might be possible, but the speaker is probability referring to the general mass of evidence and not something in particular.

  • 1
    I disagree! "the mass of the anthropological evidence" implies to me that there could be other kinds of evidence, we're just talking about the anthropological evidence here. "the universality" doesn't quite make sense to me, but I guess you could read it as "the universality of whatever-it-is". – stangdon Oct 11 '16 at 12:00

Let's look at each one.

"Here is evidence for my theory" vs "Here is the evidence for my theory". The first is general. There may be other evidence, but here is some evidence. The second is specific. It implies that this is all the evidence.

Similarly, with "universality" vs "the universality", the first is general and the second is specific. In this case I'm not sure what the difference would be. I suppose one could be talking about some general kind of universality versus a specific kind of universality that is relevant here. I have a hard time coming up with a sense in which that would be meaningful, but, etc.


If you talk about mass, and everything in the sentence is in singular (nothing like "the mass of the apples"), then you need to be specific. Therefore, both the are needed. Not using one of them (or both of them) may still make some sense, but is weird.

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