8

I have been struggling with the understanding of the others/others. I know that'the other or the other' is used when you talk about rest of some identified group, it is like 'the remaining ones'.

So e.g. here:

I implemented 50 out of 100 requirements. The others will be implemented tomorrow.

Is that correct?

9

In this specific context, the difference between using the article or not is quite clear-cut...

1a: The others will be implemented tomorrow - all the others
1b: Others will be implemented tomorrow - some (but usually not all) of the others


The general principle is you include the definite article the when the thing(s) being referenced have already been mentioned before, or are clearly defined in some other way for the current context (you're talking about something specific, where both speaker and audience know exactly which one(s).

Applying that principle in OP's example, the only possible way the others can unambiguously identify a specific group of "requirements" is if it's all the ones that haven't already been implemented.


Note that things change if the context provides more information. Consider...

2: I have high, medium, and low-priority requirements to implement. I did the high-priority ones today.
2a: The medium-priority requirements will be implemented tomorrow
2b: Medium-priority requirements will be implemented tomorrow

In that case, 2a and 2b would normally both be understood as meaning the same thing (all medium-priority requirements), so you might say it's just a stylistic choice whether to include the article or not. But per @CowperKettle's comment below, it's at least possible to differentiate on the grounds that 2b is more appropriate if you mean some medium-priority requirements will be implemented tomorrow [but not all - there are a lot of these, and it will take several days to implement them all].

Also note that if we substitute rest (or other unambiguous terms such as remaining/outstanding requirements) instead of other, the article must be included, as per the general principle above.

  • I'll add one comment for the sake of completeness: We can use the adjective other when it precedes a plural noun. So, we could offer as alternative 1c: The other requirements will be implemented tomorrow. The same usage of the applies; if we remove the word the, it means some (but probably not all) will be implemented: Other requirements will be implemented tomorrow. – J.R. Oct 7 '13 at 10:16
  • @J.R.: Yes - effectively, others is a "contracted form" of other requirements, but if we drop the primary noun we still need the pluralising s, so it gets attached to other. Considering your comment in light of the final sentence of my answer, we also end up with the observation that if there's only one "other" (i.e. - the referent is unambiguous), then again the article must be included. "I finished one of my two jobs today. The other will be done tomorrow." – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '13 at 14:45
  • I don't understand why in your second example "Medium priority requirements" in 2b cannot mean "some, probably not all". – CowperKettle Dec 17 '16 at 18:55
  • @CowperKettle: You're quite right. I've just revisited this page because I got an upvote (yours?) before noticing I was also being pinged by a comment. And my first thought in glancing at my text above was *I seem to have tailed off without explaining why "things change". It was a while ago, so I've completely forgotten how I came to post it as is - perhaps I got called away or something. Anyway, ty for the heads up - I'll edit. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '16 at 19:06

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