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I'm about to submit my thesis, and to do so I have to translate the title of the thesis into English. My main concern is about the use of the. My title reads as follows:

On relations between sth1, sth2 and sth3.

Is it correct or should it be "On the relations between..."?

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I'd use the relationship(s) –  American Luke Jul 30 '12 at 21:10
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@ FumbleFingers I would rather distinguish relations and relationships according to link provided by Luke. –  usage Jul 30 '12 at 22:08
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Relation can mean a number of different things in different contexts; it would help immensely if you mentioned the scientific field the dissertation is in, and the type of relation(s) you're talking about -- social, historical, causal, correlational, military, diplomatic, etc, etc. I also see no particular reason to keep sth1, sth2, and sth3 a secret. By the way, you want a comma after the next-to-last one in an series like that; otherwise it's potentially ambiguous. –  John Lawler Jul 30 '12 at 22:11
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If you talk about "the relations between squares and circles", it implies you will describe all of the relations between them. If you just talk about "relations between squares and circles" or "certain relations between squares and circles" you can talk about just some of the relations, with no claim of completeness. –  The Photon Jul 30 '12 at 23:16
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@Carlo_R.: Using the serial (or Oxford) comma is the preferred style in the US; not having the comma is the preferred style in the UK; for other varieties of English I don't know. –  Mitch Jul 31 '12 at 0:11
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Both

On relations between ...

and

On the relations between ...

are equally good but with slightly different meanings. The first refers to some relations, not necessarily all, the second refers to all relations (possibly not the mathematical all, but at least all that are reasonably implied depending on context). The determiner 'the' really points to the exact set, and so all of them. Leaving the determiner out renders it a more vague reference.

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