Can anyone please tell me if I can omit the in the following sentence? I want to know if it is essential in the following sentence, and why yes, or why not?

(The) residents in this town are very genial and they want to keep the town clean.

  • In short, YES! And while residents in is perfectly correct, Ngram indicates that residents of is three times as popular. Jun 13, 2018 at 16:54
  • @RonaldSole Would you interpret the above sentence as stated (with in instead of of) with the article as suggesting a contrast between the residents and some other group (as perhaps previously disambiguated)?
    – user3395
    Jun 13, 2018 at 17:18
  • @userr2684291 A typical English speaker wouldn't make any distinction between residents in and of, nor even notice whether you introduced the sentence with the. You are looking for nuances that few would be aware of. Jun 13, 2018 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


The definite article ('the') specifies.

Residents of Smallville speak Latin - an unspecified number of residents greater than one can speak Latin.

The residents of Smallville speak Latin - all of the residents speak Latin.

  • 4
    The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston & Pullum 2002) says the following on page 370: "In [The bathroom tiles are cracked.] it is not necessarily the case that every individual tile is cracked: rather, the totality of the tiles gives the impression of being cracked. If I wish to indicate that every individual tile is cracked, I must make that explicit, for example by adding the universal quantifier all as a predeterminer." Would you not make a similar observation in the given example?
    – user3395
    Jun 13, 2018 at 17:30

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