This question already has an answer here:

In a mail from my professor, I read

you need to specify all the fields.

Here, he gave us a form with about 25 fields. He asked us to fill out the fields.

I'm skeptical about the usage of the in his statement. I assume that it's used when we are particular about a single object, not for a group of objects (plural).

I smell something odd with professor's sentence. Am I right?

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Jun 21 '14 at 11:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 5
    The raised hands of all the people in all the countries on the 7 continents are disagreeing with you. – Digital Chris Jun 20 '14 at 17:36
  • If it helps, mentally replace "all" with "every single one of". – David Schwartz Jun 21 '14 at 6:09

First of all, the definite article (the) is not specific to singular nouns only. It can be used for plural forms of nouns as well.

Specifically, for your example, "the" should be used for all nouns that have been mentioned before -- explicitly or implicitly. Since, presumably, the context of the mail implied a form that you were supposed to fill, and the form fields are an automatic inclusion in the context, the definite article is a valid choice.


I bought a new car. The seat-belts are too tight to be comfortable. The seats are ergonomically designed.

Now since, the car has already been mentioned, the definite article is used for all parts of the car itself, even if they have not been specified explicitly.


I assume, the is used when we are particular about a single object, not for a group of objects (plurals).

This is incorrect. It can be used to denote one or more thing or person.

However, a must be used to denote one thing or person (but it's an indefinite article).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.