Is definite article needed when we refer to metrics like impressions, visits and purchases (terms used in online marketing) which tend to change with time?

For example, let's say I'm preparing an August performance report for a client. Highlights would include changes from the previous period. Would I say "impressions went up by 70% from July" or "the impressions went up by 70% from July"? It sounds weird when I add "the" because what am I specifying? (impressions in August or July? impressions changed by day, by hour, and even by minute)

What about rates? Would I say "purchase rate" or "the purchase rate"?

My confusion is in the fact that I have to use a definite article is a context known to both the speaker and listener. In my case, my client knows which "impressions" and "purchase rate" to look at (there is only one each in the report). I am merely reiterating the numbers in text.

I don't know if I've made myself clear. Please let me know if there is any confusion.


  • Could you define "impressions"? I am not clear about what they are.
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 3:55

2 Answers 2


In the original poster's first example, "Impressions went up by 70% from July" is correct. This is analogous to saying "Revenues went up by 70% from July", or "Profits went up by 70% from July". Neither "revenues" nor "profits" needs a definite article. The original poster explained why: There is only one kind of impression, and both the speaker and the listeners know what it is.

In advertising, "impressions" are used to count the number of times that people saw an advertisement. If an ad was shown three times, and an average of 1,000,000 people saw the ad each time, then there were 3,000,000 impressions. If Alice saw the ad once, she is counted once. If Bob saw the ad three times, he is counted three times.

In the original poster's second example, "The purchase rate" is correct. This is because there is more than one rate being discussed.

  • Aren't definite articles needed for things that both the speaker and the listener know? Can you please explain why "impression" wouldn't need a definite article? Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 4:12

In the first sentence, I think it would be better to use "the impressions went up by 70% from July". Aren't you talking about some particular impressions, which exceeded those of July ?

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