Why is "the" used in this sentence?

What are the unique challenges of keeping mobile devices secure?

  • I presume it is referring to a single set of "unique challenges", follows by enumerated examples. If you just mentioned some of them, with the understanding there is some greater quantity of other challenges, then no article would be OK. Can you add some additional context?
    – user3169
    Sep 9 '17 at 21:36
  • Sometimes the can be used in place of some, especially when the author wants to create the impression they are about to give a complete list rather than a partial one.
    – J.R.
    Sep 9 '17 at 23:16

You use the definite article the when are referring to something that has already been mentioned or to a specific item or group of items. In this sentence, unique challenges are specific, even if you don't know at the time of asking what exactly they are.

  • 1
    The OP could have said "What are some unique challenges of keeping mobile devices secure". The fact that the indefinite article is used suggests that an exhaustive list is called for.
    – WS2
    Sep 9 '17 at 23:53

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