It must be a dead easy question. Working on a web-site, I have an internal entity, which called, for example, Place. Every place has a unique name.

I want to make a message when a user wants to delete a place. The message says "Are you sure you want to delete _ place 'PlaceName' ". The question is - should I add the definite article before the "place" word?

I failed to find any suitable grammar rule for this case. Also, there is a similar question there, but it has an inverse order of words, what I consider as a crucial difference in this case.

So, is the article required and what a grammar rule should I apply here?

2 Answers 2


You don't need the definite article with what are called modified names but you can use it if you want. Consider the analogous natural language sentences:

  • Are you sure you want to slap professional boxer Mike Tyson?
  • Are you sure you want to slap the professional boxer Mike Tyson?

Both are acceptable and easily understood.

The use of the demonstrative 'this', however, does not sound good:

  • *Are you sure you want to slap this professional boxer Mike Tyson?
  • modified names - exactly what I overlooked in similar questions. Thanks for your answer! Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 4:29
  • @Silenus In your example, you're correct in saying "this" does not sound correct. However, your example using my phrase isn't comparable to the usage I provided. In the usage I provided, the specific object is an answer to "What place am I deleting?", rather than "Do I want to delete this place?". If you phrase your example in a similar fashion - "Are you sure you want to slap this professional boxer (Mike Tyson)?", it sounds much better. Applying it the opposite way, "Are you sure you want to delete place Tokyo?" sounds wrong. I think your second example is the most ubiquitous answer though. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 4:34
  • @Jared Andrews, my example was meant to parallel the poster's syntax, not yours. The reason "place Tokyo" sounds odd is because we would not usually modify "Tokyo" with "place" in natural language, but given that "place" as used by the poster is an internally defined term, I think it sounds fine.
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 4:42
  • @JaredAndrews for me it looks a little profuse to point attention to the entity twice in one sentence - with "this" and "(Tokyo | Mike Tyson | any other proper name)". The article has a slightly different meaning to my mind - it marks the uniqueness of the entity in general. By contrast "this" means for me "this exactly thing that you just selected, whatever it names". And I want to get exactly the first sense. If they are actually tantamount - please correct me. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 5:06
  • And yes, @Silenus is totally right, "place" is just an example. Rather a flawed example. Let's say it is "group". 1. Are you sure you want to delete the group "X"? 2. Are you sure you want to delete this group "X"? 3. Are you sure you want to delete group "X"? Are they all equal and natural now? Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 5:08

Readability is important for code, and your end user should be able to understand the effects of their actions on the UI. Since this is referring to a specific instance of an object, the article I would use is "this", and yes, I think it should be used.

For example:

"Are you sure you want to delete this place (New York City)?"

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