In some passage, I've noticed that the "the" article is used before some words at the first time but it is not used at the second time before the words.

As example, In this passage:

You might be wondering about the origin of the C language and where it got its name. C was created by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1972. The language was created for a specific purpose: to design the UNIX operating system now known as Linux. From the beginning, C was intended to be useful—to allow busy programmers to get things done.

Because C is such a powerful and flexible language, its use quickly spread beyond Bell Labs. Programmers everywhere began using it to write all sorts of programs. Soon, however, different organizations began utilizing their own versions of C, and subtle differences between implementations started to cause programmers headaches. In rresponse to this problem, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) formed a committee in 1983 to establish a standard definition of C, which became known as ANSI Standard C. With few exceptions, every modern C compiler has the capability to adhere to this standard.

ow, what about the name? The C language is so named because its predecessor was called B. The B language was developed by Ken Thompson of Bell Labs. You can guess why it was called B.

Ref: Teach yourself C in 21 Days. Bradley L. Jones, ‎Peter Aitken, ‎Dean Miller. 2013.

You may noticed in the passage that, "the" used before Bell Laboratories at the first time but the second time, the article "the" is not used. Why?

Is this is a rule of article? Or something else?

  • 4
    Where did you find this sentence? It contains many article mistakes, so I would not try to find any rule about using articles in that sentence.
    – oerkelens
    Jan 31, 2015 at 16:19
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    oerkelens is correct, but I'd use the 'the' first and the zero article second here also. Use of the article in the first case shows formality, a sign of respect. The second time, more familiarity is expressed (because we now know all about them). Jan 31, 2015 at 16:20
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    @EdwinAshworth You really think that an author who misses so many articles in that sentence actually thought about such finesse when it came to that one instance of the definite article?
    – oerkelens
    Jan 31, 2015 at 16:22
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    No, but are you saying I musn't answer OP's implied 'In some passage[s], I've noticed that "the" is used before a noun phrase the first time the phrase is used, but not subsequently. Can you suggest a reason?' [Which I consider a good question; I've not 'answered' though because I realise the question isn't posed very well. Which one of us is missing the point?] Jan 31, 2015 at 16:25
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    @EdwinAshworth I find it interesting that you would shift here, too. I wouldn’t. To me, Bell Laboratories and the Bell laboratories are two different entities (though they probably refer to the same thing), and I wouldn’t switch between the two unless I had a specific reason to. Bell Laboratories implies a proper noun, while the Bell laboratories implies a generic noun modified by a proper noun adjunct. As it happens, BL isn’t just the laboratories at ‘Bell’ but an entity unto itself, and I find the article as odd as, “He studies at the Harvard University”. Jan 31, 2015 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


The Bell Laboratories communicates to me a wish on the part of the writer to emphasise just how important these Laboratories are. This having been established there is no need to use 'the' when the institution is mentioned again. This is my answer to the OP (although I agree with @oerkelens that the entire phrase doesn't look very well put together and this nuance may easily not have been being intended).

ADDED LATER (following downvoting of preceding text)

I'm mystified by the down voting of my original answer. Clearly the OP is carelessly written - but I share with @Edwin Ashworth the view that "...the second time (Bell Laboratories are cited), more familiarity is expressed (because we now know all about them)". Notice, incidentally how a 'The' before Bell Laboratories in the foregoing sentence would be clumsy.

Consider another example - Strawberry Fields Orphanage (the one in the Beatles song). I could happily begin writing ... The Strawberry Fields Orphanage features in a famous song by the Beatles. I might then go on to say ... Many children who went to Strawberry Fields Orphanage became musicians.

I might even go on and say how ...Beatles songs are very popular with many people around the world (i.e.dropping the definite article of their name), and even though they were officially THE Beatles, my usage there is common and unremarakable.

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