Example with a context (The Object-Oriented Thought Process by Matt Weisfeld, 3rd Edition):

Visual modeling tools provide a mechanism to create and manipulate class diagrams using the Unified Modeling Language (UML). UML is discussed throughout this book, and you can find a description of this notation in Chapter 10, “Creating Object Models with UML.”

As you can see, Unified Modeling Language has the definite article the in front of it, which, I believe, is absolutely correct. That's exactly how it's used in the Wikipedia article for UML as well as it just makes perfect grammatical sense to use one in this situation. However, a few pages further down, for no rhyme or reason the author all of a sudden completely does away with the article:

Over the years, many tools and modeling methodologies have been developed to assist in designing software systems. One of the most popular tools in use today is Unified Modeling Language (UML). Although it is beyond the scope of this book to describe UML in fine detail,we will use UML class diagrams to illustrate the classes that we build.

Can you think of an explanation as to what he might have done that for?

1 Answer 1


It's odd, but if I were to say this with the full words, I would say, "One of the most popular tools is the Unified Modeling Language" (and include the article). However, if I were to use the acronym, I'd probably say, "One of the most popular tools is UML" (not "the UML").

A similar phenomenon often happens with school names:

He has a master's degree from MIT.
He has a master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bottom line: article usage can be tricky and inconsistant with acronyms.

As for why the book is that way, I can't say for sure. You'd have to ask the author or the editor. It makes me wonder, though, if an early draft of the book first introduced the acronym in the second paragraph, and therefore felt obliged to spell it out. When a earlier reference was inserted, they never took it out of the later paragraph.

Or it could just be that the editors felt it was okay as-is.

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