"In this section, you can read what other Service Providers have to say about a client who has booked you."


"In this section, you can read what other Service Providers have to say about the client who has booked you."

I'm not sure whether to use "the" or "a" here to describe this scenario in a grammatically correct way. Do they both work?

  • They both work, but I think the would be far more common in this exact context. – FumbleFingers Feb 23 '15 at 21:25
  • I would use a to connote a general principle that applies to any client. I would use the to emphasize a particular client or client type. Without a larger context, I'm not sure exactly what the sentence is trying to communicate. – ScotM Feb 23 '15 at 21:30
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    If, as is implied here ('In this section ...'), a/the 'client' has been previously mentioned, it's the client we're discussing. Familiar/already specified by mention, though of course not at a deeper level. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 24 '15 at 9:57

It is not correct to use "the." We use "a" in this case because we are talking about a common customer. There is no specific customer implied. Even if you were already talking about customers in your material, there is not a specific customer who has booked you. Also, your sentence reads like the title of something, which I feel should use "a." For example in an airplane safety manual: "In this section we will cover what to do in case of an emergency water landing." "a" water landing--the kind that can happen in all bodies of water.

If there was a specific customer, then the sentence would read thus: "...what other service providers had to say about the customer who booked you."

This assumes that your example comes from some sort of training material and not an employee review.

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  • As Edwin commented though, if the hypothetical client had already been mentioned then "the client" would be appropriate. ...in case of an emergency landing. During the landing, please don't scream too loudly. – Avon Jul 24 '15 at 16:04
  • It still doesn't work because this is the heading of a section. People looking through a table of contents or scanning section headings wont know who this customer is. What if this were a book on poker? "This section describes what to do when your opponent receives the Ace." Which Ace? The Ace of Spades? Also, the use of "has booked," makes this confusing. If this is general, then it should be "...a client who books you." "Has booked you," does make this seem very specific. If the OP says that this is about a particular customer, then I stand corrected, but it doesn't appear that way. – michael_timofeev Jul 24 '15 at 16:15
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    I wasn't aware that this was the heading. It seems a peculiarly long heading if it is. I thought this was more of an introduction to the section, in which case "a hypothetical client" may already have been mentioned. It's just a possible exception to your otherwise correct rule. – Avon Jul 24 '15 at 18:07

a is used to describe something unknown before or it's about something general based on both speakers. the is specific where nouns has already understood.

Based on your issue, the [client] is already understood between [you] and Service Providers

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