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I am confused about the difference between

  • we can store all the backup
  • we can store the all backup

Can any one help me with which one is correct or both? What is the logic behind which is right?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Aug 14 '13 at 13:57

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  • 2
    Out of context like that, the first sounds odd and the second sounds plain wrong. Please give some more context on the sort of sentence where you would use both phrases. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Aug 14 '13 at 5:20
  • I updated my question hope you will get it. – Ghost Answer Aug 14 '13 at 5:26
  • see ell.stackexchange.com/questions/7759/… for a related discussion. – BobRodes Aug 14 '13 at 21:28
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We can store all the backup.

This means that the entirety of the backup can be stored.

In the first sentence all is a predeterminer that indicates "the entire quantity".

We can store the all backup.

This possibly means that you can store the thing called "all backup". In this sentence all could be being used in a non-idiomatic manner as some kind of modifier to distinguish which backup is being stored. This is unusual at best.

Compare it to the sentence "We can store the Tuesday afternoon backup."

All can be used as a determiner, but that is not the case in the second sentence, because there is already a determiner: the, and in the case where all would be a determiner then backup would need to be plural.

We can store all backups.

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Neither seems correct.

Depending on context I think you meant the whole backup or all the backups.

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Generally I think "all" can be replaced by "all of" and still retain the original meaning (notwithstanding style guides that prefer "all of" to be exclusive to pronouns).

So, "we can store all of the backup" sounds like it probably makes sense, but "we can store the all of backup" certainly does not.

Consider the opposite: "We can store some of the backup."

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Only the first is grammatical. I haven't heard someone say the second. Maybe it's a translation from another language and seems to have been done literally or word by word.

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We can store [A NOUN PHRASE].

[NOUN PHRASE] -> all, the, backup

There in that sentence we need to form a noun phrase that will sit after the verb - store. This noun phrase consists of three words - all, the and backup.

The head noun of the noun phrase is backup, and other two words -all and the - are determiners. So they will come before the head noun. Now the question is whether the will come before all or all will come before the.

Let's see....

Both all and the are determiners. A determiners can be further classified into three sub-classes - CENTER DETERMINER, PREDETERMINER and POSTDETERMINER.

And their order as occurs in a noun phrase is -

PREDETERMINER + CENTER DETERMINER + POSTDETERMINER

Here the is a CENTER DETERMINER, and all is a PREDETERMINER.

So the correct order of determiners is - all the

Hence it's all the backup that is correct, not the all backup.

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