A and B shared a high acoustic parameter, while C shown showed (the) low acoustic parameters.

Should I insert "the" in the place of bracket? To be honest, I am confused by the articles of English (especially definite-articles).

  • This sentence is confusing anyway. Why do you separate A and B from C with a "while", when they show the same (low) parameter value? Oct 15, 2014 at 12:41
  • It's my leak to miswrite the "high" as "low" of the first phrase.
    – Ping Tang
    Oct 15, 2014 at 12:50
  • Not your "leak" (a leak is caused by a hole in a bucket, for example, or by a failed gasket). Rather, your "error".
    – TimR
    Oct 15, 2014 at 13:00
  • It is extremely difficult to say with certainty which article is most appropriate when we have only one sentence for context. In the right context, the would be correct. So decisions about the use of articles rely on surrounding context perhaps more so than any other question over word usage. Which is why those single sentence tests where you fill in the blank with the "correct" article are pretty much useless.
    – user6951
    Oct 15, 2014 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


For "showed" you could say "was associated with" or "was characterized by". You would not use "the". You should probably not use "a" either with A and B. But we'd need to know more, to be able to say for certain.

The phrase "to share a high...parameter" is not entirely clear. You need to clarify what "high...parameter" means. Parameters are not high or low; rather the values of the parameter are high or low.

So "value" would be a better term here for parameter.

With respect to articles (a, the). Let's take this definition of parameter:

any of a set of physical properties whose values determine the characteristics or behavior of something [my emphasis] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parameter

There is a set of properties, so we do not say "a" or "the". Such properties might be density, pressure, temperature. Each member of the set has a range of possible values.

A and B shared|had in common high pressure, while C was characterized by low pressure.


A and B both were characterized by high pressure, while C showed low pressure.

You need to specify which parameter.

A and B both were characterized by a high backscatter coefficient, while C showed a low backscatter coefficient.

EXTRA CREDIT QUESTION: Now, why did I use "a low backscatter coefficient" instead of "low backscatter coefficient"?


If multiple tests were conducted, and A and B and C each had multiple associated test results, how would we state the backscatter coefficient result(s)?

  • Oh I see, "backscatter coefficient" is a definite values rather than a range of possibile values.
    – Ping Tang
    Oct 15, 2014 at 14:37
  • Yes, the distinction is between a range of possible values for the property and a definite or constant value.
    – TimR
    Oct 15, 2014 at 15:02

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