Because of execution time, cost, and expected outcome, we do not pursue these experiments further.


Because of the execution time, the cost, and the expected outcome, we do not pursue these experiments further.

Is one version simply wrong? Is one more idiomatic than the other? Does it depend on former mentions of the concepts?

  • 1
    The stuff you added later is loosely related to but not the same issue as your original question. You should post it as a separate question.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 4:54

1 Answer 1


Apparently, this is a phenomenon known as the "zero article", where "the" is the definite article and "a" is the indefinite article. In this case, either version is acceptable, as long as it's consistent. You might even say "the time, cost, and expected outcome," but you wouldn't say "the time, cost, and the expected outcome" or "time, the cost, and expected outcome."

But: "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Because life and liberty are abstractions that do not take an article in American English. It would be "Life, liberty, and happiness." But pursuit is not abstract.

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