In the phrase:

"based on the conversion process of modal distances",

I understand that it is not necessary to use "the" after "based on", but also that it is usual to put "the" before the structure "noun of noun", as in "the conversion process of modal distances". Should I put "the" here or not?


  • 1
    The presence or absence of "the" (or "a") after "based on" would almost certainly be determined by the usual rules for using articles. There is nothing special about "based on" vs any other legitimate word sequence here. Ngram. – Hot Licks Jan 18 '16 at 1:04

Where did you learn that it is not usual to use "the" after "based on"? In literature and in common speech, I have always heard the definite article after "based on". I would definitely keep "the" in this case, because without it, it sounds like "conversion process" is a specific noun or proper noun. It is neither.

  • Actually, I have always put "the" after "based on", but after some time got in doubt if it would be really necessary, after seeing some corrections eliminating it. I expressed myself wrong: should have put only "not necessary". Thanks for the explanation. – Fabíola Jan 19 '16 at 14:26
  • 2
    @Fabíola - You should not always put "the" after "based on" -- it depends entirely on what follows. Eg, one might easily say "based on other considerations" or "based on current practices". The same rules for using articles ahead of nouns apply after "based on" as apply anywhere else. – Hot Licks Jan 19 '16 at 18:11
  • In these cases, I don't use "the". Maybe a better question would be when not to put "the"; I think my text sometimes has too much "the's" when compared to a native speaker one. – Fabíola Jan 20 '16 at 19:28

For the structure

... based on {article} {subject} ...

Use of an article after the phrase "based on" does not depend on the phrase "based on" but on the ensuing {subject}.

The structure should be

... based on {{focuser} {subject}}

Where {focuser} helps to focus the subject. It may be an article, or pronoun, or adjective, or blank:

  • I made the decision based on Harry's input.
  • I made the decision based on the fact that the world is ending in 2 minutes.
  • My love for him is based on our mutual respect for each other.
  • My reaction to the situation was based on a shadow of paranoia.
  • Her thesis was based on distillation processing of sweet petroleum.
  • The news article was based on the frequent occurrences of school shootings.
  • The video was based on frequent burglary of banks situated on lonely strips.

Whether to use an article or not, depends on the generalization of the ensuing {subject}.

The focus of a subject sits on the continuum of two extremes.

  • on one extreme, totally generalized, indefinite and non-finite.
    • The idea was based on {houses burning at night}.
  • on the other extreme, being focused down to a specified instance.
    • The idea was based on the {house which was burned down last week}.
    • The picture was based on John's {house which was burned down last week}.
  • or somewhere in between on the continuum
    • I love listening to stories of {a woman making it to the head of an organization}.
    • I'm annoyed with {sounds} of {his making out} with {women} {at night}.
    • I'm annoyed with {the sounds} of {his making out} with {women} {at night}.
    • I'm annoyed with {sounds} of {his making out} with {those women} {at night}.
    • I was annoyed with {sounds} of {his making out} with {those women} {last night}.
    • I get annoyed with {sounds} of {men making out} with {an unknown woman} {last night}.
    • I get annoyed with {sounds} of {men making out} with {an unknown woman} in {the night}.

The phrase "based on" should not even enter the picture (except to set the context) in deciding what {focuser}, if any, the {subject} might need.


Perhaps you could document the basis of your understanding. The google reports 1.5B hits for the phrase "based on" and 1.4B for "based on the". So 90% of the time, I would expect the article to follow the preposition. Of course, this is a crude method, with too many results to cull false drops.

Whether to put the definite article in front of "noun on noun" constructions depends on whether those name general things or specific things. The latter would include references to a previous mention. For instance

We measured modal distances using standard matrix techniques, and we drew our conclusions based on the conversion process of the modal distances".

It's just not any modal distances you're talking about in the second clause, but the very ones mentioned previously that were measured with matrices. So the definite article would be appropriate.

  • 1
    Although I didn't downvote your answer: You are talking about the wrong the. The OP asked about the usage of the after based on and not between the two nouns. – jera Jan 19 '16 at 14:44
  • @jera Thank you for your comment, which confuses me a bit. The OP claimed an "understanding" that the article is not necessary after "based on." I think that's wrong: a native speaker wouldn't say, "based on conversion process", and that's what my first paragraph is about. The OP also says that it's "usual" to put the article in the structure of "noun of noun." I interpreted in to mean within the phrase, and I think the OP is wrong about that as well. – deadrat Jan 19 '16 at 17:29
  • @jera Let me add that I don't mind people downvoting an answer of mine that's wrong or inapt. I'm wrong all the time; it's the human condition. My object is to driveby downvotes, those that don't leave an explanation like yours. It's hard to correct or improve answers without some guidance, and it can leave the impression that a correct (if inapt) answer is wrong. – deadrat Jan 19 '16 at 17:34
  • Why are you talking about "the modal distances" when the question is about "based on the conversion process"? – Hot Licks Jan 19 '16 at 18:07
  • @HotLicks The OP has advanced his understanding of the placement of an article both before and "in" the "noun of noun" construction. I think his understanding is incorrect on both counts. If I have misinterpreted "in", then the OP can tell me without penalty. – deadrat Jan 19 '16 at 18:57

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