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In the following sentence is the use of "the" grammatically correct? Is it an optional case? I used leakage as a synonym for an oil spill.

"The study was performed during the two days following leakage".

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The definite article, as its name suggests, makes things specific.

"The study was performed during the two days following leakage". - the study was performed during two particular days, those immediately following leakage (i.e. the day after leakage, and the day after that).

"The study was performed during two days following leakage" - the study was performed during two unspecified days after leakage. These could be the next two days, or any other two days, and they don't have to be consecutive.

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