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I am a non-native speaker of English. I am confused about whether to use "the" in the following context:

Let's say there is a person preparing to submit a manuscript to a journal. That person makes a checklist where he writes a few items like "Submit the manuscript.", "Check e-mail for confirmation of submission.", et cetera.

I am confused whether "the" should be used in front of "confirmation" or not?

Thank you for you help.

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  • Hi Singularity. Welcome to EL&U! If it's only a checklist it doesn't matter. It's only for his own use. Personally I would leave out 'the'. Recipes are usually written the same way: "Check potatoes. Turn heat down. Melt butter" etc. Aug 3, 2021 at 23:07
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    @OldBrixtonian I agree that for a checklist it doesn't really matter but there is another reason for omitting the definite article before 'confirmation'. This is that 'confirmation' is essentially an abstract, uncountable noun. This is similar to 'permission' . We can say "I have seen the confirmation that my document has been received" or "I have received the permission to do X" but only after the fact, we don't, usually, say "I am waiting for the confirmation that the item has been been received" because it hasn't happened yet so it is still abstract rather than specific and concrete.
    – BoldBen
    Aug 4, 2021 at 1:10
  • @BoldBen: Yes. Good point. +1. I hadn't thought about it but I quite agree. There shouldn't be a 'the' before 'confirmation'. There could be one before 'submission' as it is a concrete thing. Aug 4, 2021 at 1:35

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Two things:

First, for checklists, anything goes, since the list only has to be understandable. Many of my check lists contain only nouns and maybe a verb or two.

Second, "confirmation", as BoldBen said, is an abstract noun. We wait for permission, but rarely do we say "I am waiting for the permission" or "I am waiting for the confirmation". After the fact, "I got the confirmation" makes sense.

However, "I got confirmation" evokes the nuance of a non-written confirmation since the confirmation no longer sounds like an object. If we haven't gotten the confirmation yet though, we will usually be abstract about it.

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