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Which one of the following is correct?

  • A comparison between the existing and proposed manuals is as follows.
  • A comparison between the existing and the proposed manuals is as follows.

Do I need to use "the" before the second noun?

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Why would you use either the? It reads better without any at all. The careful and conscientious copyeditor looks at each the with mistrust, probing to see whether its absence would cause a change in meaning, and if not, to delete it with extreme prejudice. :) –  tchrist May 2 '12 at 23:58
    
Unfortunately the "the" issue in your example sentence is the least of its problems. A far more serious difficulty is the debilitating framework, "A comparison between...manuals is as follows." Stylistic formality may forbid you to use contractions and personal pronouns to produce a natural-sounding introduction such as "Let's compare the proposed manual to the existing one, point by point"; but if so, I urge you to consider recasting the sentence along the lines of "Here is a detailed [or "general," as the case may be] comparison of the proposed manual to the existing manual." –  Yargs May 3 '12 at 1:27
    
Yes. The definite article is needed in both the places. The sentence is correct and in conformity with current structure and usage practice in writing for technical subjects. –  Kris May 3 '12 at 5:29

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You may but you need not. Sometimes omitting it will be confusing, but if the meaning is clear without it, omit it.

By the way, these are not proper nouns.

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Thanks Colin for your reply and sorry for writing 'proper noun'. –  user12076 May 2 '12 at 23:49
    
Why omit when it could be confusing even if only on occasion? Would not its use ensure that the sentence is always unambiguous? –  Kris May 3 '12 at 5:42
    
Because that's not how language works. We could speak so as to avoid all possibility of ambiguity, but we don't, because that would be long-winded, repetitious and tedious (for example, we would have to avoid most pronouns). In this case, I would tend to put the "the" in in technical writing, but would normally omit it in speech. –  Colin Fine May 3 '12 at 23:34

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