I wrote:

Birds are some of the most beautiful and inspiring creatures in the world. They fly freely in sky. They are always among trees and flowers.

A native speaker corrected it to "the trees". We don't speak of specific trees. Then why a definite article is needed?

  • 5
    ... in the sky... No article is needed before trees.
    – TimR
    Nov 18, 2016 at 11:35
  • @tromano he says he added it because "among " requires it!
    – Ahmad
    Nov 18, 2016 at 15:53
  • 2
    the is not incorrect before trees, but it is not required. The trees in that case would be understood to mean "the trees one encounters".
    – TimR
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


Your sentence should read

They are always among the trees and the flowers.

It is idiomatic. For example, to say

I ran through trees in the forest.

would be understood to mean you knocked down a bunch of trees, whereas

I ran through the trees in the forest.

means you ran among the trees.

In the same way

They were dancing among the flowers.
She was picking flowers and counting the petals.

Both of your sentences

They are always among trees and flowers.
They are always among the trees and flowers.

are understandable and mean the same.

"The" refers to the specific group one has in mind, "We brought the presents for our friends" is a specific group of presents. "The trees" in this case would be interpreted as the trees near the birds, where they are flying around since they wouldn't be in trees on the other side of the world. "The trees, the birds, and the flowers of Yosemite make it unique" since they are specific groups to Yosemite.

The use of "the" is not necessary, but is nuanced to a native speaker.

This is different to "We ran into opposition" means someone conceptually opposed you about something versus "We ran into the opposition" which means you physically ran into the people who oppose you.

  • When we don't have specific trees in mind, how is "the" interpreted?
    – Ahmad
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:16
  • Added to my answer
    – Peter
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .