I asked a technical question on another StackExchange website, and the title of the question is:

What does the option "-d" of the ... command do?

Someone helped me improve it like this:

What does the "-d" option of the ... command do?

Does the improved version sound more natural? In case you are interested, here is the link to the question.

  • You're asking about computer terminology, not English. I think this is off-topic here. You'd be better off asking the user that revised it why they did so.
    – Astralbee
    May 7, 2022 at 17:37
  • 2
    It's not necessarily restricted to computer contexts. We can ask What does the "X" button do? or "What does [the] button "X" do? interchangeably, for example. And there are probably even more common examples of the same basic construction that I can't think of right now. Some people in some contexts might disagree over whether it's idiomatic to include / dispense with the definite article, but I'd say that's just a matter of stylistic choices. May 7, 2022 at 17:58
  • Perhaps Do you know Pat the Irishman? and Do you know the Irishman Pat? Not that the question format is a relevant factor here. May 7, 2022 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Both possibilities are found.

In the option -d, "-d" is treated almost like a name. like "The book Gone with the Wind"

In the -d option, "-d" is treated like a an attributive, like the accounts book.

  • There's something slightly different about OP's "options", as opposed to your "books". I think we have to include the definite article in Have you got the book "Gone with the Wind"? and "Have you got the accounts book?, but we don't need to include it in Did you use [the] option "-d"? Only non-native speakers would be likely to ask Did you use "-d" option? without an article, though. May 7, 2022 at 18:13
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    @FumbleFingers You're right, it's complicated. I think that the whole of option -D is optionally treated as a name. But that's not the whole answer, becuase the is possible, just not required. It's not just the computer world - we find this in assembly instructions for furniture too: "Attach handle C to frame H".
    – Colin Fine
    May 7, 2022 at 19:22

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