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“The drill is initiated on a cue, such as enemy action or your leader's order, and is a trained response to the that stimulus.” (FM 3-21.75)

Is such a construction grammatical and stylistically acceptable? BTW, wouldn’t it be better to use an article before “enemy”?

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    I suspect this is an editing mistake.
    – John Feltz
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 16:13
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    No, there does not need to be an article before enemy. Enemy here functions as a noun adjunct; it modifies action. What kind of action? Enemy action. So you might ask "Shouldn't there be an article before 'enemy action' anyway?" But enemy action here functions as a kind of general concept; saying "the enemy action" or "an enemy action" would make it more specific.
    – stangdon
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 16:56

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As it's written, the example sentence seems to be a mistake.


It's not normally grammatical to phrase a sentence in that way. (Either the or that should be removed.)

The only exception I can think of would be if that were a proper name—like the Atkins Diet. In which case, it would be styled as the That stimulus—or the That Stimulus, depending on how it was named.

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  • Thanks! But would the meaning change if the sentence read “an enemy action”?
    – Zak
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 16:28
  • There would be a slight change in meaning, but it wouldn't affect your main question. Without an article, enemy action is a mass noun—it's uncountable. Just like I am eating cake doesn't say how much or how many. If you say "an enemy action" then you are referring to an actual occurrence of it rather than the idea of it in general. (But also, if you used "an enemy action" you'd also want to use "or one of your leader's orders" in order to maintain parallelism.) Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 17:05

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