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I was looking at the definition of definite article and it reads like this - "The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular".

Since this definition is generally​ true so can we say that the definition can also be like this with no change in meaning-

1) The definite article is used before 'the' singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular.

2) The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when 'a' noun is specific or particular.

3) The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the nouns are specific or particular.

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    Number 2 and 3 are OK, number 1 is not right. Number 1, if you really wanted to shorten it, should read: "The definite article is used before the singular and plural nouns that are specific or particular." Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 12:11
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    I would define it thus: 'The definite article "the" marks a noun as definite. It typically functions in NP structure with the sole meaning of indicating that the head is sufficient in the context to identify the referent. When I ask Where's the car?, I assume you know which car I'm referring to'.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 12:15
  • I don't understand your question. You quote a definition, and then in 1) you change it on purpose. What is the point of a definition? 1) could be used if the nouns you are referring to are all in one text and you are only referring to them. But then, 1) would no longer be a general principle.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 16:39
  • 1) is not ok. It should be: The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. There are not two thes in that sentence.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 17:18

1 Answer 1

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In 1), "singular and plural nouns" is a general case, not a specific set of nouns that are being referenced in exclusion to others.

Likewise, 2) would be incorrect because changing "when the noun" to "when a noun" would broaden the scope of the condition from the exemplified specific/particular noun to any noun.

3) is a bit tricky. The rewording to "when the nouns are" could be read as a subset of the total group, which might be fine. Or, it could be interpreted as referring to the entirety of the subject (all singular and plural nouns) with the qualification that each must be specific or particular, which would be incorrect on my opinion.

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