0

In another post I wrote this sentence

In our software we ask user to specify ....

Other suggested (by editing) to use "the user", I thought I mean user in general and not a specific user, so I used it without "the"

Why "the user"?

Some of my interpretations:

I don't refer to a specific user, but maybe it gets "the" to distinguish it from users of applications in general! I mean "the user of our software", it gets "the" because we said "our software" before it. Could it be a valid interpretation?

For another interpretation we may imagine that surrounding a software there are many group of people, managers, developers, testers.... but we mean users, "the user" not "the developer"!

  • It depends. If you have already 'defined' the user, it takes 'the'. If it's a very first line of yours, it takes 'a'. Without any article, it'd look ungrammatical to some, including me! :) – Maulik V Jun 18 '15 at 7:22
1

You can either use

The user

To refer to your users as individuals in the sense of

We asked the user to specify

You are talking about each user which is more personal than

Users

Where as an example you might say

We try to simulate how users find their desired data

Where you talk about your users in a general way.

In order to decide between the two, have a look at the Documentation for a few web apps that you use, and see what the preferred style is.

In short, the rule is as follows:

"The + singular noun" when referring to a specific user like in your examples.

"Plural noun" (without an article) when speaking in general about all users.

  • I don't refer to a specific user, but maybe it gets "the" to distinguish it from users of any application! I mean "the user of our software", it gets "the" because we said "our software" before it. Could it be a valid interpretation? for another interpretation we may imagine that surrounding a software there are many group of people, managers, developers, testers.... but we mean users, "the user" not "the developer" – Ahmad Jun 18 '15 at 8:33

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.