If I am writing this for the first time in an article -

The associations between factor A and factor B were found to be normal.

Now, I had not discussed any thing about the type of associations that the specifies before the quoted sentence. But if I write about the associations just after that sentence, in the very next line so that a reader can connect and understand, is it be correct to use the? We are told to use the for a noun that has been already discussed.

  • Use it before. 👍🏻
    – Sam
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 13:40
  • If the noun has been the subject of earlier discussion, the definite article the is licensed, but that is not the only situation that permits use of the. You could also say "No abnormal associations between factor A and factor B were found." Typically you would first mention that factor A and B are associated in several ways, unless that knowledge on the part of the reader is taken for granted. Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 13:52
  • So, I can't write ??? Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 14:06
  • Please edit your example to include the other sentence as well so we can clearly see what you mean.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


Your proposed approach would be okay so long as you designed the next sentence to be very clearly explaining what’s going on. Something like “These associations include blah, blah, and blah.” Here the immediate and explicit reoccurrence of associations resolves any temporary puzzlement your readers may have experienced from having encountered “the associations” and wondering, “Wait, what associations?”

But you should proceed with caution because starting a sentence with “The associations…” when those associations have yet to make an appearance in the discourse does violate a contract that native English-speaking readers will expect writers to abide by. So it would probably be better to either rework the sentence or to work some mention of your associations into the text coming before.

  • It that particular noun has not been discussed before but if that noun is a well-known thing ? Will that work ??? Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 7:49
  • Yes. I’ve edited my answer to address that case. Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 11:18

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