Every time I have to refer to some products, I am not sure what article (if any) has to be used. For example, there is a company called Contigo, which makes termo cups. In order to refer to those cups, some writer said:

Contigo cups are....

As far as I understood, in case of other products, I would say Tupperware cups, Nivea creams, Cannon cameras, etc. But what about the singular? A Tupperware cup? A Nivea cream?

However, I have noticed, that some companies add the article the before the name that is used to refer to their products. Say there is the trademark Hello which stands for a computer program, and in order present it to the reader, they say the Hello toolbar is this and that Why the article the is used in front of the noun phrase? If I am offered to use the product of Hello, should I say I installed Hello toolbar or Installed a Hello toolbar? I got absolutely confused and cannot understand how/when/why the definite article the is used before the trade names.


One thing this depends upon is whether the products in question are singular or plural.

For example, if you own just one tupperware cup, you might ask a member of your family to hand you 'the tupperware cup'. But if you have many you might say 'please hand me a tupperware cup'.

Presumably there is only one 'Hello toolbar'. Therefore it would make no sense to talk about 'a Hello toolbar' since there is only one. It would be 'the Hello Toolbar'.

  • Let's say some company launches a new product. Thus, when talking about it, the name of the product is preceded by the article 'the' just because it is unique? Am I right? – darkbluecherry Mar 5 '14 at 20:30
  • Moreover, I do not understand one more thing. You say that the only product of Hello has to be referred to as the Hello Toolbar. But if install that product, I say 'I have installed the Hello toolbar?' Say the hearer does not know anything about Hello, so... shouldn't I say I installed a Hello toolbar (meaning that I have installed a single computer program)? – darkbluecherry Mar 5 '14 at 20:50
  • No. Even if the listener were unaware of Hello, you should NOT say 'I have installed a Hello toolbar', as it would imply that there were more than one to choose from. You could however say 'I have installed a toolbar, of a software company called 'Hello''. – WS2 Mar 5 '14 at 20:55

It is easiest just to think of a brand name as an adjective in these cases.

I would say Tupperware cups, Nivea creams, Cannon cameras, etc. But what about the singular? A Tupperware cup? A Nivea cream?

It's no different than if the brand name were replaced with blue/orange/new/wacky:

I bought a blue cup, thus I bought a Tupperware cup.

I bought (some) new cream (where the some is optional): I bought some Nivea cream. Alternative: I bought a jar of blue cream so I bought a jar of Nivea cream.

The same rule applies to your toolbar example.

"I installed a toolbar."

"Which toolbar is best?"

"I like the orange toolbar".

You use "The" to specify which one, so it's no different:

"Which toolbar do you like?"

"I like the Hello toolbar."

You might say "a Hello toolbar" in this case, just like you would say "a green toolbar":

"You could install a Yahoo toolbar, or a Hello toolbar, but you would be better off with The DigitalChris toolbar!"

  • I don't get the last sentence. Why 'Yahoo toolbar' follows the indefinite article 'a', whereas 'DigitalChris toolbar' follows the article 'the'? – darkbluecherry Mar 5 '14 at 20:44
  • It both emphasizes it and specifies a unique instance of it. Again, with adjectives it could be: "You could install a small toolbar or a medium toolbar, but you'd be happiest if you install the big toolbar!" Technically you could say "a big toolbar" but it doesn't emphasize uniqueness and ownership. – Digital Chris Mar 6 '14 at 12:39

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