I saw this sentence in an article

For the average web user, web content extraction is better served by direct and visual wrapper construction rather than unsupervised wrapper induction.

As I searched we also can say For an average web user, what is the application of "the" in that phrase? What is its difference with "for an average web user"?

  • would you write the sentence that you get in case of "for an average user" , too
    – Cardinal
    Aug 19, 2015 at 10:54
  • 2
    "the" and "a" represent different ways of perceiving the noun. "The average user" is an abstraction and refers to that non-existent user who is perfectly usual in some domain. "An average user" is one who lacks relevant characteristics which would distinguish him or her from "the average user". Aug 19, 2015 at 11:12
  • @Cardinal I just searched the google for it google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=%22an+average+user%22, could they mistake by using that? and we should always say "the average user"?
    – Ahmad
    Aug 19, 2015 at 11:24
  • @TRomano thanks, but I didn't get what means "an average user", could you give an example of their difference?
    – Ahmad
    Aug 19, 2015 at 11:26
  • 1
    An average user is perceived to be some real user who shares many or most of the qualities of "the average user" and who does not possess any relevant quality that makes them a special-case user. Jane is an average user. She has not studied programming, works in the shipping department, and uses computer software to do her job, not because she loves all things having to do with computers. But it need not be a particular, named user. An average user will not understand how to use this feature. Aug 19, 2015 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


If you are just trying to understand the meaning of these phrases, then in this context, there is no difference between the two constructions:

For an average web user,


For the average web user,

Both mean the same thing - talking about how normal users of a website do something.

There will be a technical grammatical difference between the use of the "the" and "an" in that phrase, but the majority of native english speakers would understand the sentence in the same way.

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