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On our company's website there's a list of projects. One of them can be chosen by clicking on the button Choose the project. In my opinion there should be a instead of the, because we are not pointing on a specific project.

Am I right or wrong? And why? Unfortunately, rules can't clarify this question for me.(

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    "Choose the project" indeed makes no sense, because if it's the project, it has already been chosen for you. That being said, on buttons, in menus, and elsewhere in interfaces, articles are typically omitted altogether. "Choose project". – RegDwigнt Jul 3 '14 at 10:45
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    Does one of our favourite questions not help here? – Andrew Leach Jul 3 '14 at 10:55
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    I don't have a problem with either article here. Either way is shorthand and in the case of "Choose the project" it could be shorthand for "Choose the project you want to work on". Having said that, I'd also recommend omitting the article altogether. I'd usually use "Select" rather than "Choose", too. – Rupe Jul 3 '14 at 11:51
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    @Rupe I really feel like even for "choose the project you want to work on", something like "choose your project" would be a more natural (and indeed more common) shorthand. Though the zero-article variant probably beats them all combined. – RegDwigнt Jul 3 '14 at 17:55
  • Is there a separate button that goes with each project? In that case, I would suggest "Choose this project." It's unclear to me how you can click on one button to pick between many projects – pazzo Oct 12 '14 at 8:35
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Given that the list contains multiple projects, and that you are inviting site visitors to choose one of them, there can be no question that the wording "Choose a project" describes the invited conduct clearly and accurately.

That doesn't mean that "Choose the project" is indefensible as wording. If I were intent on defending that wording, I would argue that "Choose the project" is simply a shortened form of a longer invitation/instruction:

Choose the project [that you'd like to examine in depth, or download, or whatever].

So it's not indefensible—and indeed, as one or more commenters above have noted, a similar truncation may be attributed to your preferred wording:

Choose a project [to examine in depth, download, or whatever].

Still, like you, I see a difference in immediate clarity between extending a deck of fanned-out cards toward someone and saying "Pick a card," and doing the same thing but saying "Pick the card."

  • But why do we say "Pick a card" in this situation? – pazzo Oct 12 '14 at 9:14
  • The implication of my answer is "For the same reason that one might say 'Choose a project'"—namely, that we are inviting the hearer or reader to choose any one of the proffered items, not a particular one that we have designated as "the card [or project]." – Sven Yargs Oct 12 '14 at 9:19
  • I got that. I'm referring solely to the card-picking scenario. I'm trying to understand the underlying question of why the dealer says a rather than the. Either "a card" is a indefinite generic NP. If not, I thought the only other consideration in choosing among articles is whether the speaker assumes the listener knows which card the speaker is talking about. (Don't mind me, I'm trying to wrap my head around why native speakers choose the article we do in our utterances.) – pazzo Oct 12 '14 at 9:38

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