When "youth" means "young people considered as a group", oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com gives examples for this meaning both with "the" and without it. The examples where "youth" is without "the" are:
(1a) training for unemployed youth
(2a) Youth and adults tend to see things very differently.
(3a) the aspirations of modern youth

But britannica.com says that in this meaning, we must use only "the youth", i.e. necessarily with "the". Therefore, I infer that britannica.com considers (1a-3a) incorrect and the only correct variants to it are:
(1b) training for the unemployed youth
(2b) The youth and adults tend to see things very differently.
(3b) the aspirations of the modern youth

So, why do the dictionaries have different opinions on this issue?
And what's the difference between a- and b-variants?

  • Please include more of the surrounding text for the "b" examples. As they stand currently, 1b and 3b are grammatically incorrect and 2b is awkward at best. Mar 23 at 8:45
  • Your inferences are wrong. (A) We don't put an article between an adjective and a noun, so it would have to be the modern youth. (B) Britannica's examples (such as the youth of America) are all particular cases where the article is required, but the Oxford examples show that it isn't always necessary. Mar 23 at 9:09
  • @Seattleguy Thanks. I've corrected (1b) and (3b).
    – Loviii
    Mar 23 at 10:08
  • @KateBunting Thanks. I've corrected (1b) and (3b).
    – Loviii
    Mar 23 at 10:09
  • Youth can be singular or plural, although the plural youths is sometimes found. You need to work out which is singular and which is plural - it's not always clear what is intended. And note that the singular can be used in a generic sense as well as to refer to a particular young person. So that's a lot of possibilities to guess what is meant.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 23 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


Britannia's definition 4 leaves out something very important.

It is no accident that all their examples have youth qualified: "the youth of today", "the youth of America", "The city's youth".

When youth in that sense is unqualified, as in your examples, it can't take "the".

In this it is like many abstracts: we don't normally refer to "the beauty" but we do say "the beauty of a sunny day".


"Youth" can be a singular noun (one child) or collective (all children). Similar to "sheep" or "fish".

Which meaning is intended will usually be determined by the surrounding context, though it can be difficult, e.g. 2a and 2b could be taken either way as they stand, requiring further knowledge of the subjects referenced to be sure either way.

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