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The currently studied samples 13 and 14 are morphologically similar to the previously studied samples 3 and 4 - i.e. their particles are mostly oblong in shape and show no signs of lamellar structure.

Should I use the definite articles here, or should they be dropped, because we don't use an article before a numbered noun ("Which way is room 213?")

Currently studied samples 13 and 14 are morphologically similar to previously studied samples 3 and 4 - i.e. their particles are mostly oblong in shape and show no signs of lamellar structure.

I'm trying to apply the article to my "room" example:

Which way is the (?) currently renovated room 213?

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  • Your analysis is correct. The isn't necessary and should be dropped because the samples were made specific by the identifying numbers.
    – Rose
    Feb 2 '17 at 11:08
  • For your last "room" example, the is necessary in the (rare) event that multiple rooms with the identifier 213 exist, and you're refering to the only one that's being renovated. Without the, it's understood that there's only one room under that name.
    – Rose
    Feb 2 '17 at 11:33
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    Does the current study involve samples other than 13 and 14? We don't really have enough context. If they are the only samples in the present study, "13 and 14" stands in apposition to "The currently studied samples" and the should remain. The same is true of the previous samples. If they were the only samples in that study, the should remain there too. But if these samples are not the only samples involved in their respective studies: Samples 13 and 14 from the current study are morphologically similar to samples 3 and 4 from the previous study. is how I'd rewrite. Feb 2 '17 at 12:08
  • @TRomano - a very interesting comment! Why not transform it into an answer? In my case - I looked it up - the study indeed is performed on two samples only. Feb 2 '17 at 13:11
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As we have learned, the studies concerned only those two samples, and so the definite articles are appropriate.

The currently studied samples 13 and 14 are morphologically similar to the previously studied samples 3 and 4 - i.e. their particles are mostly oblong in shape and show no signs of lamellar structure.

We can understand the noun-phrase "13 and 14" as standing in apposition to "the currently studied samples". The same is true with "3 and 4", which is apposite "the previously studied samples".

The punctuation does not draw attention to the apposition. We could set the apposite phrases off with commas (and make a slight change to the clause introduced by "i.e."):

The currently studied samples, 13 and 14, are morphologically similar to the previously studied samples, 3 and 4, in that their particles are mostly oblong in shape and show no signs of lamellar structure.

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  • Would "Currently studied samples 13 and 14" always look odd and require the change into "Samples 13 and 14 from the current study"? Feb 2 '17 at 15:34
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    I find the phrase "currently studied" jarring, with or without the article. The study is already completed and is being written up. Currently studied samples is not comparable to "Currently benched players..." The sentence could read "The samples analyzed in the present study are morphologically similar to those analyzed in the previous one, in that their particles ..." Feb 2 '17 at 16:33
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    If they are being studied, one could say "The samples which are now under study..." Feb 2 '17 at 16:37
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    It's like saying currently scrutinized. We'd say "under scrutiny" or "being scrutinized" to avoid that. I believe it is more than a mere infelicity. It has to do with aspect . Feb 2 '17 at 16:40

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