I have the following sentence:

These elements are highlighted as mouse moves over them to make it easy for the user to detect the boundary of each element.

I thought I am addressing the mouse which is used by the user or is known for the reader because each computer has a mouse. I don't know if it needs "the" or not.

What is the rule here? If it doesn't need "the", why?

  • "mouse" is singular (pl. mice), and a group of them would also be mice. So "mouse" needs an article. – user3169 Jun 24 '15 at 21:13
  • In short, yes, you need 'the mouse' here, using the because there is almost never more than one mouse cursor on a computer screen. – Michael Dorgan Jun 24 '15 at 21:31
  • Technically, you could also use "your mouse"... or "the user's mouse" but these may be odd considering the rest of the sentence. – Catija Jun 24 '15 at 21:32
  • Short Answer: Yes, you do need to use "the". – Dog Lover Jun 25 '15 at 1:58

When you drop the article like that it's called the "zero article" if you want to read more about it. The general rule is that you can drop the article with mass nouns (e.g., bread, coffee) or plural nouns. There are a few other specific contexts where it applies, but this isn't one of them. You have a single mouse, so you need a "the".


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