1

I saw sentences like:

In order to print part of a web page, I would select the desired sections and press command + p.

To register your courses, select the desired sections in the Find column and click Submit.

Why there is "the" before the phrase? It is not specific what are the desired sections of the user. could it be just "desired sections" or "your desired sections"?

  • 2
    See: determiner – lurker Jan 16 '16 at 14:51
2

The meaning is:

To register your courses, select the sections that you desire to choose at that particular moment in the Find column and click Submit.

The noun sections is "modified" by desired, and this modification makes the noun definite in this particular context.

You can say "your desired sections":

To register your courses, select your desired sections in the Find column and click Submit.

The word your will occupy the slot that the occupied. Both your and the serve as "determiners" to the noun "sections". The word your will basically mean the same as the in this particular context. Since we cannot combine two "main determiners" like the and your (we can't say "the your desired sections"), we only use either the or your.

Compare with a sentence I've composed:

To make a flower bouquet for my girl, I pick red flowers in the field.

By not using any determiner before "red flowers", I signal to the reader that I pick any red flowers I might find attractive enough, not some red flowers I selected beforehand.


P.S.

In on-screen messages, articles may be omitted in order to economize screen space:

To register your courses, select desired sections in the Find column and click Submit.


References:

  • Thank you, however meanwhile I replaced it with another example, but when I saw your answer I left two examples. – Ahmad Jan 16 '16 at 14:46
  • @Ahmad - fine, I reworked my answer. – CowperKettle Jan 16 '16 at 14:47
  • What if one use just "select desired sections", what could it mean? aren't adjectives the modifier of nouns? – Ahmad Jan 16 '16 at 14:48
  • @Ahmad - adjectives are modifiers, but they are not determiners. The presence of the absence of this or that determiner (or all determiners) shows the "definiteness" and "belonging" of the noun to the reader (roughly speaking) – CowperKettle Jan 16 '16 at 14:51

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