The usage of "the" is really difficult. When it combines with the usage of plural nouns, it is hard to tell whether "the" should be used in front of the plural noun. I searched the forum. There are some similar questions and examples, which I think I understand. But I am still not confident on this.

For example,

  1. The App Store has remained unchanged in terms of general fee structure since it first debuted in 2008, and while policies have been updated, the development principles have remained the same.

Why not “the policies”? Can the readers know the policies are related to Apple Store? The policies are definite.

  1. In response to claims that the ‌App Store‌ is anticompetitive because there are no alternate app stores allowed on the iPhone, Apple points to competition in the device and game transaction markets.

Why not “the claims”? The clause after "claims" is a modifier through which readers can know which claims?

  1. The 30 percent fee that Apple charges is in line with the fees charged by other app marketplaces and software providers as demonstrated in a study that Apple had commissioned earlier this year, and Apple recently introduced the Small Business Program to drop fees to 15 percent for developers making under $1 million annually.

Why not “the developers”? Can those developers making under 1 million annually make a group? Can this group be definite?

(The above sentences are from the same article, which can be read here: https://www.macrumors.com/2021/04/08/epic-games-apple-conclusions-of-law/ )

1 Answer 1


In your first two examples, you can have "the" in front of these.

"the policies" would be fine and have the same sense.

The second one would mean the same thing but (in my opinion) have a slight subtle change in implication. If I say "in response to claims", I probably mean lots of claims made by different people. If I say "in response to the claims", I probably mean that I am talking about a specific set of claims, often in the context of other claims existing, while I am only addressing this one.

The third one should stay as it is. If I say "the developers" here, it has the implication that we were talking about "those developers right there" instead of a category of "all developers making under $1 million".

The change in meaning is subtle, so I agree that it can be confusing to someone who isn't a native speaker.

In general, using a plural noun without "the" means you're talking about that plural generally, and with the means you're talking about a specific subset (usually indicated by the context).

You can see the same thing with singular nouns. If I say "I like cake." I mean that I like cake in general. If I say "I like the cake", I mean a specific cake (which cake I'm talking about should be clear in context).

  • I am very grateful for your explanation. In your answer, "If I say "the developers" here, it has the implication that we were talking about "those developers right there"" , do you mean "those developers making under $1 million right there?" And I still don't understand why it cannot refer to "all developers making under $1 million, since there can be many groups of developers according to their revenue, one group making under $1 million.
    – learner
    Apr 18, 2021 at 0:28

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