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Tell me please if I should use any article before the word awareness in the following sentence.

Many don't realise that they arch their lambar spine during the squat, so it is crucial to develop (an/the) awareness of it to avoid injury.

I lean towards the use of the, but I heard natives say it with a and without any article.

  • Speaking personally, the definite article would be my last choice. I'd use an, then nothing, then the. Alternatively, you could use a personal pronoun (their). – Jason Bassford Dec 24 '18 at 20:11
  • Why does "the" sound not that well? – Dmytro O'Hope Dec 24 '18 at 20:40
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    Using it reminds me of using the definite article with The Force from Star Wars: Reach out with the awareness, so to speak. Except that awareness isn't a proper noun, and you can't point at it and say, Look at that awareness! in the same way that you could point at a door and say, Look at that door!. Awareness just isn't amenable to the definite article in the same way that other nouns are. – Jason Bassford Dec 24 '18 at 20:49
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Awareness is an abstract noun. It is not something that is countable, or which exists in a concrete sense. It is therefore most common not to use any article at all.

That said, the use of articles with abstract nouns is not straightforward.

Abstract nouns can be used with an indefinite article (a/an). Few native English speakers would understand the difference between 'an awareness' and 'awareness', let alone English learners, but there is an explanation here and here. In essence, they are largely interchangeable, but with, perhaps, a slight additional specificity when using the indefinite article which is similar to saying 'a kind of'.

In your sentence, saying

"so it is crucial to develop a kind of awareness"

would not be accurate. You want people to have general awareness, not a specific kind of awareness. So I would probably lean towards no article if I was being extremely pedantic. But either option is fine.

It is also possible to use abstract nouns with the definite article when referring to a particular instance of the noun. In your sentence that is not be appropriate.

[PS. As @Jason Bassford notes, 'force' is an abstract noun too, but in the universe of Star Wars, 'the Force' is a proper noun referring to a specific type of force used by Jedi, and therefore the definite article is appropriate.]

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