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When you name a specific database, do you use the before it? I'm helping a friend translate from Japanese into English, and she's referring to a database such as Earthquakes database, the actual name of the database. Should a sentence say: Refer to Earthquakes database or should it say refer to the Earthquakes database? It will be read by those familiar with the particular database.

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In US usage, if the sentence uses the word database or other descriptive noun after the proper name, the definite article would normally be used. However, if just the proper name is used, the article is often omitted.

I looked it up in the Books In Print database.

I saw it on the Bloomberg monitor.

but

I looked it up in Books In Print.

I saw it on Bloomberg.

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Because you have put "database", I suggest that you use "the" before "Earthquakes database". You are specifying which database and therefore need the article.

However, if you do not use "database" and simply say "Earthquakes", you will not need an article, as it becomes a proper noun, its name. Obviously,you will have defined what Earthquakes is prior to using it in this way.

Compare these two sentences:

The Google Chrome search engine is a great tool. (You wouldn't say "Google search engine...")

Google Chrome is a great tool. (You wouldn't say "The Google Chrome is a great tool.")

  • Google Chrome is the browser, not the search engine. Interestingly, omitting the before proper nouns doesn't apply when naming cars: we say The Accord is a dependable car, not Accord is a dependable car. – Barmar Feb 25 '14 at 17:28

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