Source: http://rt.com/news/mariupol-base-shooting-ukraine-008/

They called on the troops to abandon the base, but the soldiers didn't listen, the demonstrators said. Instead, the troops opened fire at the protesters, injuring at least four people. One of them took a bullet in his chest and is in serious condition, according to protesters.

I know that generally you don't need definite articles when using the expression according to someone or something. But is it possible, in theory, to use one? Or would it sound just plainly wrong to your ear?

  • 1
    If the ones being quoted are a known entity being quoted in its entirety, then there’s nothing wrong with adding an article. “According to the neighbours, you’ve kicked your ball into their yard three times this week already” works because it implies that we’re talking about a specific house of neighbours, and we’re quoting all of them in unison. If the article were left out, “According to neighbours …”, you’d be implying you didn’t quite know what neighbours were saying this, or whether it was just random ones from up and down the street—it would make the sentence more or less nonsensical. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 16 '14 at 21:12
  • @JanusBahsJacquet According to neighbours in various parts of the road, the mains water pressure is below par. But: according to the neighbours at number 15, there have been several suspicious characters lurking around. – WS2 Apr 16 '14 at 22:18

Omission of "the" in reference to "protesters" conveys an attribute of a class of people, whereas "the protesters" conveys a reference to the actual, specific people who participated in or witnessed this particular protest. It strikes me that the intent of the writer is to highlight a particular point of view of the incident, namely that of a protester, to contrast that with some other point of view, say, that of a guard or soldier. Either construct is grammatically correct.

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