This question is about filesystem paths and network paths only (computers)

I often see sentences such as The network path was not found or ...if path is not found..

Confusion is regarding The and A word.

My understanding is if we don’t specify what kind of a path are we talking about then we should omit The and just say path?

And if we know this is network path or file path then we would use The and say The network path or The file path.

Assuming the path word is not used for the first time in some sentence otherwise we would say A network path or A file path?

I need help understanding when to say The path vs. A path vs just path.

1 Answer 1


Whether the path is over a computer network or a local drive the idea of path is the same, though some will insist the details of a network make it much different. You are right that the initial use of "Network path" or "File path" will tell the reader which is being discussed. The paragraph will or should contain the details of said path and need not be repeated with every use. The path is a path is any path you like. The use of articles;"The" and "a" help to bring the noun out for examination, which is what the sentence is there for.

If two paths are being discussed it pays to clarify by pointing out which, if any, is looking over a network and which may be only local. If two paths of the same type are being bandied about you have a digital version of Who's On First? going and clarity becomes crucial. There are perfectly unclear sentences which are grammatically correct. More's the pity.

  • The file path was not found, and every subsequent mention of the path means I'm talking about the network path. this is not a path here but the path because the path was already mentioned at least once? Is this sentence grammatically correct? Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 22:34
  • Btw. to me it looks like I use the just too many times in the sentence above. should I replace some of the the path with just path? Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 22:36

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