The Little, Brown Handbook 9ed, section 16h says

1. Use a, an, and the where they are required.


2. Use other determiners appropriately.

The uses of English determiners besides articles also depend on context and kind of noun.


First, the book hasn't introduced uses of English determiners besides articles, as this quoted sentence is the first sentence in subsection 2. Why does it use The uses?

Second, why doesn't the book say depend on the context? Without article it's unclear which context is it talking about.

Third, why doesn't the book say the kind of noun? I checked some references [1][2]; there are always an determiner before kind.

In a nutshell, why doesn't it say the following?

Uses of English determiners besides articles also depend on the context and the kind of noun.

  • The short answer is that they could have written it the way you suggest, but didn't. Both are correct. The simplest way would have been with "the" before all three of those nouns. I'm not sure the rule for when "the" is optional without changing the meaning, or I'd give a proper answer myself
    – gotube
    May 26, 2022 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


This is a guide for native speakers and it assumes a certain "native" familiarity. So it doesn't attempt to spell out "rules" for articles. Native speakers of English very rarely have any difficulty in choosing and placing articles. For non-native speakers an instruction on "The uses" refers to the uses that you already know because you have native intuition of grammar.

"Context" can be countable or non-count. In this case Fowler is using it as a non-count noun. An article "the" could have been inserted but when the word "context" is unqualified it is quite natural. This is probably idiomatic. One could say "it depends on weight" or "it depends on price". All these can be used correctly, similarly you could hear "I like the clock, but it comes down to price..." and so on. Again, native speakers have no difficulty with this and insert or remove articles without thinking and without effort (and without logic!)

The use of "kind" (which is usually countable) is rather less common. Here it has a slightly technical flavour. It is also euphonious: it sounds better to omit "the" from both. This is strictly a stylistic choice. Another writer could have made different decisions.

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