Why in paragraph below, it is used "the participant" and "the reader" and "the writer"? Can't we write them as "A participant", "A reader", "A writer"?

Talking about “one of many” is also called “indefinite reference.” We use it when the noun’s exact identity is unknown to one of the participants: the reader, the writer, or both. Sometimes it’s not possible for the reader or the writer to identify the noun exactly; sometimes it’s not important.

Reference: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/articles/

1 Answer 1


We use the definite article here because we're not just talking about any participant or any reader or any writer, but the specific reader or writer involved in this exact case.

The sentence wouldn't exactly be wrong with "a", but it's more correct to say "the".

  • But I don't undrestand why they are specific?
    – Mmm
    Sep 21, 2017 at 19:21
  • "to one of" refers to one specific person, even if unidentified in context. So use the.
    – user3169
    Sep 21, 2017 at 19:57

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