Consider the sentence below.

The total mass is the sum of the mass of all components.

I do not understand why definite article "the" is followed by the word "mass." Why the word "mass" is specific? Is the phrase "of all components" makes it specific?

The sentence is from a science article.

1 Answer 1


The key is that here, "mass" refers to a property of an object. In English we use an article like "the" when referring to properties of an object, as in the color of the sky, the width of a rectangle, the speed of my car and so on. We can also use possessive forms: the sky's color, the rectangle's width, the car's speed or the components' mass. Or indefinite articles when stating the value of a property: the sky has a blue color, the rectangle has a width of 1 meter, the components have a mass of 10 kg.

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