Do you think in the sentence below we should use the definite article or not before the highlighted phrases?

  • I like (the) British accents better than (the) American accents.

I have seen both of the occasions when the definite article was used and it wasn't in sentences like this in which you talk about the accents in a region/country generally. Are both of the versions with or without the definite article correct?

  • Bloody hell, Deputy Dawg! Now me girl's me wife! (etc). Commented May 7, 2021 at 22:48
  • @MichaelHarvey Sorry? Commented May 8, 2021 at 6:05
  • Why use an article? When you say you have seen it, I wonder, you have seen that exact usage repeatedly? I like British sports' writers better than American sports' writers. Generalities do not require "the".
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


We use the definite article when something is specific. It can be a single thing in isolation or a group/collection of things that is easily identified.

There are many regional accents in both American and British English. If you were referring to all of them, there would be no need for an article, definite or otherwise, because "I like American accents" would sufficiently convey that you liked them all. So, if the purpose of your example is to simply compare all accents, there is no need for an article. The pluralisation of 'accents' makes it clear you are acknowledging there are many, so all you need to say is:

I like British accents better than American accents.

"I like the British (or American) accents" in isolation seems wrong, but in a context where it is clear that you are referring to a specific set of accents, it could be ok. For example, if you watched a movie in which there were a limited number of identifiable accents, you could say "I liked the American accents in that movie".

  • Thanks. People tend to say “the American accent” or “the British accent”, “the Australian accent” etc. when they also talk generally about a British accent or an American accent etc. in situations when they are not talking about a specific person’s accent. They say, “He hates hearing the British accent” instead of “He hates hearing British accent”. They can also say, “He hates hearing the British accents” too. Don’t you see or hear this usage? Commented May 8, 2021 at 6:04
  • 1
    Yes, we say the British accent when speaking of it as though it were a single accent, but British accents when referring to the many accents which actually exist in the British Isles. Commented May 8, 2021 at 9:16
  • @KateBunting I see. Thanks. Commented May 8, 2021 at 9:50
  • The British accent in that sense is using the to refer to a general idea. "The poodle is an intelligent dog". But you can't use that everywhere and all the time.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 15:40
  • @Lambie No, that is not a comparable example. There is only one pure breed of dog that can be called 'the poodle'. But there are around 40 different dialects spoken in Britain, so there is no one 'British accent'.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 18:29

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