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Using and omitting the definite article

Click on the highlighted text for an explanation of use.

Note: Other general plural nouns in this passage are shown in bold.

Language in context

Passage 1

The Internet, the world's most popular communicaton medium, is the future for data communication. Nowadays, computers can receive TV signals, decode video signals and function as fax machines. Using the computer, it is now much faster to send an email than a letter to a relative overseas. The time taken on the Internet to transfer information from one site to another may be only a few minutes.

But the problem is controlling authorised access to information on the Internet, since messages can be so easily posted around the world. This means that children can get access to pornography. Control of access to the Internet will be a major project for the computer industry. Such control could be achieved by checking the user's ID and age. But what about children who use their parents' account or that of another older relative? These are the problems we have yet to consider.

Student Text

Passage 2

Rapid changes in the global market have influenced the development of management accounting. How does the role of management accounting differ from the past? Traditional management accounting practices assumed a simple model of cost behaviour. This is no longer viable in the present competitive business environment of rapid economic changes, where consumer tastes are constantly changing, causing rapid changes in costs and the need for innovative manufacturing processes. Consequently, current management accounting practices need to respond to the increasing complexity of business operations as they attempt to embrace a rapidly changing and highly competitive global marketplace. This report will discuss some of the changes which have occurred in the marketplace and will suggest suitable management accounting practices as a response to such changes. Further, recommendations will be made on the basis of this discussion.

(From: P.V. Cotesta, G.M. Crosling and H.M. Murphy, Writing for Accounting Students, 1998, Butterworths, Australia, pp. 26-27.)

The can mean the only one, and is used to indicate that something is unique. Another example is the World Wide Web.
The is used with things known to everyone. Other examples are the sun, the sky, the moon.
The is used with time expressions. Other examples are: the present, the past, the 1990s.

There is no definite article here because the writer is describing computers in general rather than one particular computer or the computer as an invention

Note:

Other general plural nouns in this passage are highlighted in pink: TV signals, video signals, fax machines, messages, children

The is often used in science and technology with widely known inventions. Other examples are: the microchip and the telescope.
This is a shorter way of writing the time which is taken. The noun takes the definite article because we are told which/what time?
The can mean the only one and is used to indicate that something is unique. Another example is the World Wide Web.
There are unstated words which make the noun definite. The problem could mean: the problem which we must address or the problem with regard to the Internet.
The can mean the only one and is used to indicate that something is unique. Another example is the World Wide Web.
The is used with things known to everyone. Other examples are the sun, the sky, the moon.
The can mean the only one and is used to indicate that something is unique. Another example is the World Wide Web.
This describes a particular type of industry.
There are unstated words here which make the noun definite. The user could mean: the user of the Internet.
The noun takes the definite article because we are told what/which problems. The answer is: the problems we have yet to consider.
There is no definite article here because the writer is generalising about rapid global changes rather than pointing to specific changes.
The may mean the only one. Here, the world is described as a single market
In this sentence, development takes the definite article the because it is used in a specific sense. We are told what kind of development.

Here it is the development of management accounting.
In this sentence, role takes the definite article the because it is used in a specific sense. We are told which role.

Here it is the role of management accounting.
The is used with time expressions. Other examples are: the present, the future, and the 1990s.

There is no definite article with this noun phrase. The writer is generalising about a number of management accounting practices rather than pointing to specific practices.

Note: The same explanation applies to all the nouns / noun phrases displayed in pink within this passage.

In this sentence environment takes the definite article the because it is used in a specific sense. We are told which environment.

Here it is the present competitive business environment.
Here, we have an answer to the question: the need for what.

The need is for innovative manufacturing processes.
Here, we have an answer to the question: the increasing complexity of what.

The answer is of business operations.
Here we are given an answer to the question: What changes?

The answer is: the changes which have occurred in the marketplace.
The can mean the only one. Here, the marketplace means the single world market.
Here, we are given an answer to the question: the basis of what

The answer is: the basis of this discussion.
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