Is it correct to use "the" before named equations like "The Maxwell's Equation", "The Archimedes Principle", "The Kolmogorov Equation", etc? Even though "the" refers to the equation/principle, it precedes a name so I am not sure whether usage of "the" is allowed in such context.

  • 4
    When the name ahead of "equation" or "principle" is in possessive form (as with Maxwell's Equation) then an article is not used.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


"The" is required when the name is not possessive: "the Kolmogrov Equation", "the Peter Principle", etc.

However, omit "the" when the name is possessive: "Maxwell's Equations", "Archimedes' Principle", "Ohm's Law", etc.

Some can be expressed either way, although one or the other is generally preferred.

  • Fine, but is is Ok to omit the 'The'? Is there a difference in meaning (or correctness) between 'Kolmogorov equation is hard.' and 'The Kolmogorov equation is hard.'? The first sounds nicer to me, but I am learning not to trust my intuition with such things. Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 11:25
  • Omitting the "The" sounds strange to me, like saying "Food is cold. Dog is hungry." Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 18:48
  • @StevenMathey No, your intuition failed you on that occasion and it's not ok. People will understand you but it will sound like you're visiting from a Chinese or Russian university. This use of the is the same one that shows up in the USA or the House of Representatives. The common noun at the base of the name brings in an article even though overall it's a proper name. In the same way, Americans get confused and will tend to capitalize both words like Mr Cline but Brits will get confused and tend to leave the common noun lower case like your message.
    – lly
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 9:42

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