Which article should be used in this example?

  • 1
    I feel like you have failed to include the example. – Ian MacDonald Mar 10 '15 at 17:46
  • Either one would work based on context. But that broader question should probably be asked on our sister site, English Language Learners. – Dan Bron Mar 10 '15 at 17:49
  • If this is the kind of question people ask on English Language Learners site, then great for them - they know more than the native speakers do (when compared to the questions posted here). – MDX Mar 10 '15 at 18:05
  • Your question is little removed from "Which is correct, 'a dog' or 'the dog'?" Please don't go on to insult people pointing this out. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 10 '15 at 18:11
  • Search this site for "which article". There are many answers to questions about whether to use "a" or "the". – SaganRitual Mar 10 '15 at 18:28

Both are grammatically correct. Your choice rests upon the context in which you are using the clause.

the prime indicator of success

This implies that there is only one prime indicator of success.

a prime indicator of success

This implies that there could be more than one indicator of success that could be considered prime.

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Either is acceptable given your usage.

Consider the text used to define these words:

the (article). A definite grammatical article.

a (article). The indefinite grammatical article.

When you say "a specific blah" or "a prime blah," you are using the article in a definite manner, thus the and a prime are synonymous.

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I'd argue that there is only one prime indicator, and I would therefore use the definite article. This is not borne out by common usage, however. You just need to decide if "prime indicator" is unique or if it can be plural. If plural, the indefinite "a" is grammatically correct.

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Yes, correct.

Consider -

The prime indicator of success = this/that prime indicator of success.

A prime indicator of success = some/any prime indicator of success.

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