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About the definite article. I presumed that there's no need of the article, but the speaker used it.

A: who has been doing the balancing?

B: the balance beasty.

The name of the animal is Balance beasty and there is only one existing. Why do you think the speaker B used the article?

closed as off-topic by Alan Carmack, Nathan Tuggy, oerkelens, Em., user3169 Jul 22 '16 at 19:55

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  • 1
    Do you have a link to this text? ALWAYS ALWAYS INCLUDE A LINK TO QUOTED MATERIAL. Not just because legally you need to say what your source is, but also because non native speakers rarely include enough of a text for a user to make an informed response. – Alan Carmack Jul 22 '16 at 18:56
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There's only a few situations where you don't use an article with singluar nouns, or plural nouns meant in a singular collective sense. Here is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article on articles that gives a good list:

... However, the definite article is not used:

  • with generic nouns (plural or uncountable): cars have accelerators, happiness is contagious, referring to cars in general and happiness in general (compare the happiness I felt yesterday, specifying particular happiness);
  • with many proper names: John, France, London, etc.
  • The indefinite article a/an is used only with singular, countable nouns. It indicates that the referent of the noun phrase is one unspecified member of a class. For example, the sentence An ugly man was smoking a pipe does not refer to any specifically known ugly man or pipe.

    • No article is used with plural or uncountable nouns when the referent is indefinite (just as in the generic definite case described above). However, in such situations, the determiner some is often added (or any in negative contexts and in many questions). For example:

    There are apples in the kitchen or There are some apples in the kitchen; We do not have information or We do not have any information; Would you like tea? or Would you like some tea? and* Would you like any tea?* or Would you like some good tea?

Additionally, articles are not normally used:

  • in noun phrases that contain other determiners (my house, this cat, America's history), although one can combine articles with certain other determiners, as in the many issues, such a child (see English determiners: Combinations of determiners).
  • with pronouns (he, nobody), although again certain combinations are possible (as the one, the many, the few).
  • preceding noun phrases consisting of a clause or infinitive phrase (what you've done is very good, to surrender is to die).

  • If it is required to be concise, e.g. in headlines, signs, labels, and notes, articles are often omitted along with certain other function words. For example, rather than The mayor was attacked, a newspaper headline might say just Mayor attacked.


Why do you think the speaker B used the article

Generally if the is used for X and you don't know why (e.g. it wasn't mentioned previously), the speaker is talking about a specific X and is expecting you to know which X. X might be something that:

  • the speaker believes that he/she and you observed directly without talking about it,

  • the speaker expects you to have read, known, or heard about before,

  • there is only one of X in the world. E.g. the sky.

  • You should correct the Wikipedia article then. :) – LawrenceC Jul 22 '16 at 20:20
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Actually, "Balance Beasty" is not the name of a character. It's its denotation, label. Once mentioned, the character next appears as the Balance Beasty. The others are nameless too (the Worry Wart, the Float Fairy, the Copy Critter, etc.), like the Ghost in Hamlet, for example -- they are only referred to in accordance with their parts in the show --except the characters with real names, Bo and Dezzy.

  • Thank you. I don't quite get you. Then you mean there are many balance beasty and this one was one of them? – Joe Kim Jul 22 '16 at 20:16
  • No, I never meant that. The Balance Beasty is a nameless, as opposed to Bo and Dezzy, character (like the Beast in the "Beauty and the Beast" tale). It has no personal name but has some traits to be called so, and since it is the only one in the show who obtains such distinguishing traits, it is referred to as the Balance Beast. Again, it's not its name, it's its label, a brief description given for purposes of identification among the others (the Float Fairy, the Coy Critter, etc.) – Rompey Jul 22 '16 at 20:37
  • @JoeKim - There might be only one Balance Beasty, but there are many beasties. That's why you specify "the Balance Beasty". – stangdon Jul 22 '16 at 21:02

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