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Tell me please which of the following sentences is correct.

  1. He showed his resentment in direct expression of anger.
  2. He showed his resentment in the direct expression of anger.

Although I have seen peope use it without "the", I suppose the second one is correct, because "anger" modifies "expression."

Could anyone tell me if I am wrong, and if I am, then explain it for me please.

  • I'd say, "He showed his resentment in a direct expression of anger". – SovereignSun Sep 11 '17 at 18:20
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    Could you explain why please? – Dmytro O'Hope Sep 11 '17 at 18:34
  • The example is unclear. Is the "direct expression of anger" coming from "He" or from a third party? – user3169 Sep 11 '17 at 22:20
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I agree with you that the should be used. Leaving out direct makes this even clearer to me which of the two is correct. I also think that a/an could be used, with a different meaning :

He showed his resentment in the expression of anger.
He showed his resentment in an expression of anger.
He showed his resentment in expression of anger.

The first option talks about his response on several occasions. It was habitual. The second option talks about a particular incident. As a native English speaker, the third option sounds wrong to me.

I agree with Ringo that instead of in you could use by or through. Again the or an are correct uses but not no article at all.

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Sentence 1 is correct:

He showed his resentment in direct expression of anger.

The article "the" would be used to refer to a specific, previously-mentioned direct expression of anger -- an expression of anger that the reader would have already known about and is being discussed further in this sentence. Because these sample sentences are meant to stand alone without previous context, the "the" ought to be omitted.

Furthermore, there is some ambiguity in the meaning of the sentence. It could mean one of two things:

A. He expressed resentment toward other people's direct expressions of anger. He didn't like it when people showed anger directly and resented that kind of behavior. You could clearly communicate this by saying:

He showed his resentment toward direct expression of anger.

Or:

B. He showed his direct expression of anger by resenting the thing that made him angry. You could communicate this by saying:

He showed his resentment through direct expression of anger.

I think it's unclear whether resentment is a direct expression of anger, but I'll leave that open to interpretation.

You can read more about the definite article here:

http://www.ef.edu/english-resources/english-grammar/definite-article/

You can also use "a" as @sovereignsun mentioned, but it's not preferable to no article.

  • Beyond the article issue, could you explain what the statement is actually saying? I don't think it is written correctly. – user3169 Sep 11 '17 at 22:18
  • I also wonder what the word 'expression' would be used as countable or uncountable? I look it up in a dictionary, saying it could be both. – dan Sep 11 '17 at 23:58
  • @user3169 I think I see the potential confusion you see, but I would think the narrator would instead say resentment toward or resentment of instead of resentment in. But I'm not sure? – Ringo Sep 12 '17 at 0:10
  • I suggested a fix. – Ringo Sep 12 '17 at 0:21
  • @dan I believe "expression" as used in direct expression of anger is countable (direct expressions of anger) or can also be uncountable (direct expression of anger containing many separate expressions) – Ringo Sep 12 '17 at 0:47

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