Can I change the definite article in the following sentence and remain grammatical?

Once you adopt the belief that there's nothing you can do to change something, you start to take a pernicious poison into your system.

I might mean that of all the beliefs someone might adopt you adopt one of them. On this assumption, I might say ''There's a belief that there's nothing you can do etc.'' On the other hand, there might be only one belief that there's nothing you can do: the belief. If I can, what's the principle by which a native speaker chooses between the two? Thanks!

1 Answer 1


Once you adopt the belief that there's nothing you can...

... is absolutely correct because you are specific about that belief. And, that is why it'd take the.

Again, you are right! Now, you are introducing that belief and that's why you can put an indefinite article. It's the same as you say - there's a place called Times Square. There is the belief somehow does not look idiomatic, at least to me.

  • Can I replace the definite article in the first example? I've found some examples so it seems to be fine. ''Some people back up a belief that life is not worth living.'' Jan 2, 2020 at 8:55
  • 1
    Yes, because you are introducing it... by naming it. I already said that in the answer.
    – Maulik V
    Jan 2, 2020 at 9:00
  • ''With the beliefs young Talmadge expressed so beautifully, I guarantee that he will have a great opportunity to continuously interpret their lives in a way that will create the future they desire, rather than the one that most people fear.'' Can we also change the articles above to the definite ones? A great opportunity means I'm introducing it, but I also can be specifit about this opportunity, can't I? Jan 6, 2020 at 20:18

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