This paragraph is in a long essay about changes in reading habits:

Ziming Liu from San Jose State University has conducted a series of studies which indicate that the ‘new norm’ in reading is skimming, involving word-spotting and browsing through the text(1). Many readers now use a pattern when reading in which they sample the first line and then word-spot through the rest of the text (2). When the reading brain skims like this, it reduces time allocated to deep reading processes. In other words, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings, to perceive beauty, and to create thoughts of the reader’s own.

Although I have read a lot about the use of the article "the", but I am confused why the writer uses "the" in (1) and (2). As I see these senteces are not specific cases, These sentences describe a new phenomenon in general.

Is it still correct if I remove "the" in (1) and (2)?

1 Answer 1


In both cases, "text" refers to "the text that the person is reading".

In case (1), the word "the" can be omitted, but with a change in meaning. The text has not been referred to before, so without "the" it could mean browsing through text (uncountable) in general. This is different from the meaning of browsing through a specific text, which is the writer's intent here.

In case (2), the word "the" is required because earlier in the sentence we see "the first line", which refers directly to a specific text. There's no question that text (2) refers to one specific text that has already been mentioned, so we need "the".

You may be confused the the word "text" wasn't used before (2). The rule isn't that the word is used before, but that the noun is referred to. In this case, "the first page" is a reference to that noun.

  • In both cases, "text" refers to "the text that the person is reading".=> who is the person you are mentioning? As I see, it seems that the author doesn’t refer to a specific person who is reading a specific book.
    – LE HANH
    Jul 5, 2022 at 15:44
  • I mean that After reading that paragraph, I don’t know who the person is, and which specific text is. Why is “the” used here?
    – LE HANH
    Jul 5, 2022 at 17:43
  • The person who is reading and the specific text I. What you said is just an imagination . Right?
    – LE HANH
    Jul 5, 2022 at 17:46
  • 1
    Right, it doesn't refer to a named person. Just saying "the person" or "the text" is enough for the grammar rules to kick in.
    – gotube
    Jul 5, 2022 at 22:24
  • 1
    The change in meaning through the omission of "the" in case 1 is so subtle as to disappear. The point of the article is to discuss new reading habits, which would just as well apply to uncountable "text" as to any particular instance referred to by "the text."
    – cruthers
    Jul 6, 2022 at 3:59

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