5

We use the definite article before defining a relative clause when we mean specific instances— this is a well-known rule. What if we omit an article in order to say something in a more general way, but assuming specific instances, when the context makes it clear.

Example:

Computers that are now in this room, are powerful.

Is this grammatically correct? Would it be correct even if it was the second mention of computers?

Would it mean that I talk about those specific computers, but just with general sense? I interpret this as they are mostly powerful, and there might be some that are not. As I understand it, saying "the computers" will imply all of them. Is having no article appropriate here or should I use "some", "most", etc., instead?

Thanks.

  • 1
    In general, one could say "Tigers are powerful", for that would be a general statement, without reference to any specific tiger (like me). One could say "All tigers are powerful", which would include me. One could say "Some tigers are powerful", and no specific tiger is being directly referred to. But if you said "The tigers that are in this room are powerful", then we know that all those tigers that are currently in your room are powerful tigers; if you said "Some of the tigers that are in this room are powerful", then only some of the previously mentioned tigers are powerful. – F.E. Oct 30 '14 at 9:23
  • Thanks)) And if to say "Tigers that are now in this room are powerful", what will it convey? Will it imply specific tigers that are now in the room? – Nikolay Komolov Oct 30 '14 at 9:25
  • I think that might be ungrammatical. It sounds a bit unusual to my ear. I would expect to hear "The tigers that are now in this room are powerful". – F.E. Oct 30 '14 at 9:26
  • I see. So saying "I like people in my village" is not grammatical, so I should say "the/some people"? – Nikolay Komolov Oct 30 '14 at 9:28
  • No, what you said is a general statement, and it is fine. It is similar to "I like pizza". – F.E. Oct 30 '14 at 9:30
1

For the second mention of computers, I don't think it'll work without the definite article. I have observed such instances when I check my articles on Grammarly (paid), MS Office (licensed) and other tools.

As far as the sentence in quote is concerned, it's fine. Computers that are now in this room are powerful. But I'm afraid, it may not convey the message that you think of.

You said that you want to talk about the specific computers which are powerful. I'd tell it this way -

Some computers in this room are powerful (which'll automatically convey the meaning that others are not)

If I say...

The computers in this room are powerful

It'll mean that all the computers present in this room are powerful, leaving none.

Furthermore, zero article would imply computers in general. You may say...

Computers are powerful machines


[Side note: I had read that inventions take the definite article. Said that, it is 'the computer', 'the telephone'. But I don't believe it's an ironclad rule.]

0

When you say something like /computers/ without an article, you then say something general. It doesn't mean the blue computers or the white one. it means all computers.

When you use an article, say, /the computers/, you know (definite) which computers are being talked about.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.