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This question already has an answer here:

I do not understand what should be here:

He wants to be able to see all users whose data he has an/the... access to.

marked as duplicate by Andrew Leach, Christi, Benyamin Hamidekhoo, Brian Hooper, user49727 Nov 18 '13 at 23:03

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Instead of writing “an/the...”, either strike it out or use an. Striking it out is preferable.

He wants to be able to see all users whose data he has access to.

Note, using an or the before access isn't ungrammatical, but is unnatural (not what a native speaker would do), unnecessary (access, an access and the access refer to the same access privilege), and verbose (the sentence already has more words in it than it should have for such a minor thought).

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"Access" is not a "count noun," so, you would not use "an." For non-count (mass) nouns, "the" can be used to specify one-of-a-kind access. In the case of this sentence, neither is appropriate.

He wants to be able to see all users whose data he has access to.

In fact, to appease the most stringent grammarian, ending the sentence with a preposition is "improper." In this case, changing the preposition position actually clarifies your question.

He wants to be able to see all users to which he has access to the user's data.

A person "has access to..." not "has an access to..." nor "has the access to..." The latter two examples do not "sound right."

UPDATE

Some clarification on count nouns. If the noun can be counted (10 sandwiches) it is a count noun. "Access" is not counted in this way. Nobody would say, "I have 10 access-es" (there isn't even a comfortable plural to access). You only put "an" in front of a count noun.

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/when-to-use-articles-before-nouns

http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/article.htm

  • If you're going to rewrite the sentence as "He wants to be able to see all users to which he has access to the user's data", you should just leave the preposition at the end of your sentence. Your rewrite is ungrammatical and confusing, because the "to which" refers to "users" and not their data. Try: "He wants to be able to see all users whose data he is authorized to access." – Peter Shor Nov 18 '13 at 15:32
  • @PeterShor You're right. I was hoping to change the sentence as little as possible, but demonstrate the count noun. I was less concerned about the proper grammar of the preposition. In hindsight, I think that may have added to the confusion. – mawcsco Nov 18 '13 at 16:15
  • It's not what's intended in the OP's context, but access is sometimes used to express an occasion on which sth is accessed, in which case it does become a count noun, e.g. during the past hour there have been ten accesses to this account. – DavidR Nov 18 '13 at 17:09

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