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Suppose that we have a piece of writing which is ambiguous in some parts. Now, I want to give my reason about the issue.

I want to use the noun source. (I know I can say that in many ways)

I would say:

I guess the lack of detailed context is the source of the ambiguity.

Should I use the definite article before source? I am saying that because I am not talk about a specific source.So, if I omit the article, then how different will the sentence be?

Would it be grammatical? If so, what will change?

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    source is a countable noun, so you have to use an article just like you would for any other countable noun.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:57
  • @stangdon OK thanks, but couldn't it be an abstract noun in that context?
    – Cardinal
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:29
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    It seems be a common misconception that we don't use articles for abstract nouns, but we use articles for abstract nouns just like we use them for anything else: "I had a thought" or "I follow the religion of my ancestors." What we don't use articles for is only noncount nouns or general concepts, whether they're abstract or not: "I like pudding" or "I study philosophy".
    – stangdon
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 20:15

1 Answer 1

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These would all be correct:

a) I guess the lack of detailed context is the source of the ambiguity.

b) I guess the lack of detailed context is one source of the ambiguity.

c) I guess the lack of detailed context is a source of the ambiguity.

This would be incorrect:

d) I guess the lack of detailed context is source of the ambiguity.

(But to me, choice a) sounds better than b) or c) because it sounds strange to use "the" ambiguity if there is more than one source of ambiguity. I would say that there is more than one source of ambiguity, not more than one source of the ambiguity. That's a more subjective question, almost a question of style.)

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  • Thanks for the answer. articles are really challenging. I thought that "source", here, can be an abstract noun, so I can omit the article without making it wrong.
    – Cardinal
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:27

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