There are many sentences, most are titles, that have the before nouns when they seem okay without it. I assume it is added to over-define them but not very sure.

Here is a title that uses "the" excessively:


"People" by itself is defined and doesn't need an article.

And here is another title that has the same issue:

About the Java Technology

So, why it is added?

  • I think the second example may just be poor writing. The very next sentence is, "Java technology is both a programming language and a platform." – David K Mar 5 at 21:42
  • I find it the same as writing an article with a title like: "Let's talk about the weather". And then defining the weather -for some reasons- like this: Weather is climate conditions...etc. It wouldn't be: The weather is climate...etc – Tasneem ZH Mar 5 at 22:12
  • 1
    Maybe, except that "talk about the weather" has a specific idiomatic meaning. For example, if I say it rained in my town yesterday, I am talking about the weather. If it were normal to say, "The Java technology was particularly fine today," then "talking about the weather" would be a proper analogy for talking "about the Java technology." – David K Mar 5 at 23:31

Good question. When you say "the people", rather than just "people", the meaning is something like "all people" as opposed to "some people". That is,

Government of people, by people, for people

would mean that the government is made up of and is intended for some people. That's not a very effective or inspiring message. I would also say that "the people" usually means "the common masses", as in, ordinary, non-elite people.

Also see definition 4 in Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/the :

used as a function word before a noun or a substantivized adjective to indicate reference to a group as a whole

// the elite

As for "the Java technology", I think that's more like definition 2a1 in Merriam-Webster (same link as above):

used as a function word with a noun modified by an adjective or by an attributive noun to limit the application of the modified noun to that specified by the adjective or by the attributive noun

// the right answer

// Peter the Great

"Java Technology" doesn't really have a different meaning from "the Java Technology", but I think the the emphasizes the fact that it is Java and not some other technology.


The answer is - Emphasis

Dictionary result for emphasis
noun: emphasis; plural noun: emphases

    special importance, value, or prominence given to something.
    "they placed great emphasis on the individual's freedom"
    synonyms:   prominence, importance, significance; More
    stress, weight, attention, priority, urgency, force, forcibleness, insistence, underlining, underscoring, intensity;
    import, power, moment, mark, pre-eminence;
    "the curriculum for 16-year-olds gave more emphasis to reading and writing"
    stress given to a word or words when speaking to indicate particular importance.
    "inflection and emphasis can change the meaning of what is said"
    synonyms:   stress, accent, accentuation, weight, force, prominence; More
    "the emphasis is on the word ‘little’"
        vigour or intensity of expression.
        "he spoke with emphasis and with complete conviction"

Example one, with the emphasis -


The article "The" is used to signify that the Government that is made by (non-political/common) people, and only for people (and no one else). 'The' is talking about specific people. (This means people like the reader of the message)

However, without the emphasis -


This is true for any government. As far as I know, there are no governments for aliens, by aliens or of aliens. Every government is of some people, by some people, and for some people.

  • Thank you for answering. You have attached all the possible meanings that would come out when using emphasis. Then, you explained that it is used for specification in example #1, but that wasn't mentioned in the gray box. So, could you clarify that more since I happened to think that too? – Tasneem ZH Mar 5 at 20:38
  • 2
    As both this and the slightly later answer explain, the meaning of a sentence can be changed significantly by replacing "people" by "the people." That is not an example of "emphasis." Setting a sentence in bold face, as I just did, is an example of emphasis. – David K Mar 5 at 21:46

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