Is it mandatory to use the in the following sentence? If I omit the from the sentence, will that be correct and what difference in meaning will it create?

Here's the example:

  • As a teacher, I feel disappointed for (the) students who could not pass last year's maths exam.

I know I can say "As a teacher, I feel disappointed for a student who could not pass last year's maths exam". So if I want to make it plural I think I should say like this way "As a teacher, I feel disappointed for students who could not pass last year's maths exam". Isn't it?

Note that when I am saying this, I have no particular students in my mind.


The sentence is grammatically correct, and commonly used, either with the definite article or without, as long as the noun is plural. As you state, an article is needed for a singular noun. Here are some correct examples.

Ships are coming into port.

The ships are coming into port.

A ship is coming into port.

The following is incorrect.

Ship is coming into port.

Confusingly, some nouns may not use an article in the singular, e.g.

Go to school.

He's in hospital. Heard in UK more than in USA.

Also, non-count nouns may omit an article.

Pour milk into the flour.

Pour the milk into the flour.

Put flour on the breadboard.

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