What are their stories trying to fit into [the] mainstream society?

Is the definite article needed or optional?


2 Answers 2


I wouldn't quite say that it's optional. I'd say the definite article changes the meaning somewhat. If you use the definite article, I'd expect some context that explains which mainstream society you are talking about, for example:

the mainstream society in Australia

Using the definite article is optional in that context, and you can omit it. However, if you don't have some context explaining which society you're talking about, then using the definite article makes it seem like an incomplete thought to me. And it sounds odd. (This actually has very little to do with the modifier "mainstream." It's more to do with how articles are used [or not used] with "society.")

Short answer: It's probably better to omit it most of the time.


When mainstream is used as a standalone noun, it does typically take the definite article:

They are trying to fit into the mainstream (of society/the literary tradition/a typical school).

But when it is used to modify some other noun, the rules for that noun govern which article, if any, to use:

These stories fit well into mainstream society.

These paintings fit well into the mainstream art world.

These lessons fit well into a mainstream school.

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