Apart from the care of children and periods of sheer rest, the active lives were spent in the cities.

Why isn't there the in periods of sheer rest in this context?

  • No particular reason. Even the first article could in principle be omitted here, but personally I find the version as presented slightly more "natural" than the alternatives with two or no instances of the article in that initial clause. – FumbleFingers May 23 '19 at 13:49
  • @FumbleFingers, is it grammatically wrong to write "the periods of sheer rest" in this case? – Charlie May 23 '19 at 13:55
  • 3
    It's not ungrammatical. I think the ear may hear the initial definite article as governing both noun phrases in some sense. This is really more a matter of style. – Robusto May 23 '19 at 14:00
  • I'm not sure when the original version was written, but the cited text has been reproduced in many publications. There's certainly nothing "ungrammatcal" about it. – FumbleFingers May 23 '19 at 15:04
  • The omission of articles before subsequent list items is normal. (And in this case, it's not even clear if specific periods of sheer rest are being discussed anyway, so it would sound odd to add the definite article.) What I find most strange is the inclusion of the in front of active. That doesn't look at all correct to me. Mentally, I keep substituting their, but even dropping it altogether would sound better to me. – Jason Bassford May 23 '19 at 15:20

I think, you can consider the absence of "the" before "periods of sheer rest" being omitted. It is like when you have a list of things: a ball, pencil, desk and stone, you can use "a" before the first item and omit it before all subsequent items, because one "a" works for all.

It is not wrong to use "the" before "periods of sheer rest," but it is not necessary and it sounds repeating. Anyway, adding "the" would emphasize "periods of sheer rest."

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