Consider the sentence:

Determine the type of the field

Should I every time put the (or a/an) in constructions like this?


You give a sample sentence, and ask whether you need all of the definite articles (the) that are present. That means we have four possibilities.

  1. Determine the type of the field
  2. Determine type of the field
  3. Determine the type of field
  4. Determine type of field

To me, the only one of those that is valid as a sentence on its own is number 1, with two uses of the. Number 4 can work as a fragment in an abbreviated list, but probably not in most circumstances. I'm struggling to think of any circumstance in which number 2 will work.

Number 3 can be used, but only in certain circumstances. As an example:

We can now determine the type of field that we wish to use.

| improve this answer | |
  • There is no exact rule? – Артур Клочко Feb 26 '19 at 10:21
  • The general rule is that you should use 'the' when referring to a specific thing, even if which particular one it is isn't known. However, as always with English, there are going to be exceptions. – SamBC Feb 26 '19 at 10:27
  • One of those exceptions would be "Where is the London University?" which should be either "Where is the university?" or "Where is London University?" However I would still say "Where is the Saatchi Gallery?" – Weather Vane Feb 26 '19 at 10:34
  • Generally, 'the' isn't needed for proper nouns - but some do use them. It's just a matter of knowing in specific cases, but there are vague patterns. – SamBC Feb 26 '19 at 10:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.