I've just read a scientific article. And I am wondering about the use of articles. The given sentence is,

Now, three teams of researchers have demonstrated the ability to perform secure quantum communication without (x or the) prior confirmation that the devices are foolproof.

The original sentence doesn't have any article.

Can I use the definite article here? And that sentence looks natural?

  • Basic English questions — especially those on the use of articles — are not appropriate for this site but should be posted on our sister site, English Language Learners, whether or not the poster feels this description applies.
    – David
    Aug 1, 2022 at 10:16

1 Answer 1


You can use it if in the particular question you are considering there is usually a matter of confirmation involved and if you do so you are speaking about it as this determinate thing that people familiar with the subject know well; however, even if it is a determinate thing in your scientific discussion there is no necessity to use the article and you may decide not to use it so as to speak about it without referring to its systematic nature; it is your choice. If there is no context for a type of more or less usual confirmation in your discussion then there is no reason to use the article.

  • Thank you! In fact, the reason I asked was that the phrase "that devices are foolproof" modifies and specifies the word "confirmation," so I thought an article "the" would be necessary. I understand that a definite article is used when words are specified by phrases or other words.
    – min seok kim
    Aug 1, 2022 at 3:41
  • The definite article is sometimes required because of the presence of a modification, but not necessarily.
    – LPH
    Aug 1, 2022 at 3:46
  • Thanks a lot! I get the picture.
    – min seok kim
    Aug 1, 2022 at 3:55
  • To me, “devices” needs a determiner. In face, the original has one.sciencenews.org/article/…
    – Xanne
    Aug 1, 2022 at 7:03
  • @Xanne No doubt, a determiner is necessay in that case.
    – LPH
    Aug 1, 2022 at 11:29

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