3

When is the definite article the appropriate before an abstract noun? In particular, I have the following examples.

Which are correct?

Case I

  1. In the Theorem 4.4, we prove property A for all graphs.
  2. In Theorem 4.4, we prove property A for all graphs.

Case II

  1. From the Theorem 4.4, we know about property A for all graphs.
  2. From Theorem 4.4, we know about property A for all graphs.

Case III

  1. From the following Theorem, we know about property A for all graphs.
  2. From following Theorem, we know about property A for all graphs.
  • 6
    You're mixing up abstract nouns and proper nouns (i.e. names): "Theorem 4.4" is a proper noun, the name of a specific object, and so does not take an article. Later, when you refer to "Theorem", without the 4.4 (rendering it non-specific), it's a standard noun, and so should not be capitalized, and requires an article. In that particular case, you want the definite article: "the thereom [we were just discussing]". – Dan Bron Nov 25 '14 at 12:34
  • 4
    This may be better on English Language Learners – Kris Nov 25 '14 at 12:46
  • Jardine, the question itself is required in the body, even if stated in the title. Edited. – Kris Nov 25 '14 at 12:47
  • @DanBron The confusion may be due to the unavoidable professional blindness of a mathematician or a theoretician. To me, Theorem 4.4 is an abstract mathematical object, that I can neither see nor smell nor feel with my hands. I can only hear or read the 'statement' of the theorem, that is, how it is stated, but not the theorem itself. A theorem can be stated in many ways which might not seem to be the same thing, even though they are the same. Thanks, any how. It makes sense I believe. – Jardine Nov 25 '14 at 13:03
  • 1
    Well, love is an abstract concept, yet it can take an article or not. Consider the following references from music: "Love is a many-splendored thing," "A Love Supreme," or "The love you take is equal to the love you make." – Robusto Nov 25 '14 at 13:46
2

I'd say, I sentence 2, II sentence 2, and III sentence 1 are correct; the latter, since dropping the in this case would yield a gap in the sentence.

1

When is the definite article the appropriate before an abstract noun?

When you are referring to a specific instance of that abstract noun, e.g. a specific idea or theorum, and aren't identifying it by e.g. following the noun with a number specific enough for the reader to know exactly which theorum you're discussing.

-1

In this very case the article the is referred to an abstract noun - in this case theorem - which is already known to both speakers, i.e. they already have background knowledge about that very theorem which is determined by the article the.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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