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Which is (more) correct?

  • (I am with the) Laboratory of Biochemistry of Hydrobionts.
  • (I am with the) Laboratory of the Biochemistry of Hydrobionts.

Is there any rule for using or not using the before Biochemistry?

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  • 1
    What do you want to say exactly? I can't understand... And by the way, if it's an already existing "title", it will be simple to see that...
    – Alenanno
    Jun 19, 2011 at 19:04
  • Thanks Alenanno I was just wondering why some laboratories study, for example, BIOCHEMISTRY of something (for example, HYDROBIONTS) and others study THE BIOCHEMISTRY of something (for example, HYDROBIONTS) I personally prefer the second variant (with the definite article) but in the web I can see numerous examples of zero article... I hope you understand now what I want to say... Apologies - probably, this misunderstanding is because I am too old, or too Russian... Thanks
    – victor
    Jun 19, 2011 at 20:51
  • 1
    Possible duplicate: Definite article before schools, colleges and universities
    – user1579
    Jun 20, 2011 at 13:03

4 Answers 4

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When you say "The laboratory", you are referring to a specific object, which fulfils the role expressed by laboratory. Contrast this with "a laboratory", which can refer to any object that fulfils the role conveyed by the word laboratory.

Biochemistry refers to a general topic or idea—not to a specific object, nor to any object.

Thus,

The Laboratory of Biochemistry of Hydrobionts

is correct usage.

On the other hand, since this is also the name of a thing,

Laboratory of Biochemistry of Hydrobionts

would be correct as well.

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"The" is not needed in this case. It doesn't change the meaning of the sentence. What would change the meaning of the sentence would be a "the" infront of "Hydrobionts" as in

I am with the Laboratory of Biochemistry of the Hydrobionts.

"The" specifies which "hydrobionts" is being referred to. The Hydrobionts, or just Hydrobionts, etc.

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    'The' can be important. There is a neurology dept called "Cambridge Brain Repair Centre". Just before the Duke of Edinburgh was going to visit there was a quick addition of a "The" - the previous announcement having read "D of Edinburgh to visit Cambridge centre for brain repair!"
    – mgb
    Jun 20, 2011 at 15:35
  • To be honest, I am completely confused -- I always thought that if one studies, e.g., biology in general, then no definite article is needed, but if one studies the biology of, e.g., invertebrates, then the definite article is a must before BIOLOGY As with HYDROBIONTS -- I can't think of a laboratory name with the definite article before it - because, I think, hydrobionts in general are always meant. Thanks for your answer
    – victor
    Jun 20, 2011 at 18:52
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Actually @Alenanno provided a nearly complete answer in the question comment.

The first rule of precedence is to use the official title of the institution or facility. Thankfully, that simplifies concern related to grammatical correctness!

One needs to be careful not to imply an official name for something that does not have one, thus incorrectly conveying a greater sense of prestige or status by using the definite article.

For an actual place name, I would expect something such as "The Hydrobionts Biochemistry Laboratory". It sounds more natural with a less archaic usage to me e.g. "The Computational Linguistics Research Laboratory". Regardless, always use the official title whatever it may be, and with the first letter of the first word capitalized:

I am with The Laboratory of Biochemistry of the Hydrobionts.

If the facility name is "Laboratory of Biochemistry of Hydrobionts" or "Laboratory of Biochemistry of the Hydrobionts", then do NOT use the definite article. In that situation, you would say

I am with Laboratory of Biochemistry of....

because that is the name of the institution.

If there is no proper name, but you work for the laboratory that is affiliated with the institution or department of "Biochemistry of Hydrobionts", then do not capitalize "the". You would say

I am with the laboratory of the Biochemistry of Hydrobionts.

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  • My apologies! I just noted that "science names" was a specific part of the question. I will leave my answer unchanged however, as I was responding with that context in mind. Jun 20, 2011 at 12:05
  • Also, I agree with @Ham and Bacon regarding insertion of the definite article before Hydrobionts. If it is there already, in the official title, so be it. But if you are translating a place name from a language for which "The Laboratory of the Biochemistry of the Hydrobionts" is grammatically and stylistically correct, then in English, you would certainly not capitalize it as "...The Hydrobionts", and preferably just say "The Laboratory of the Biochemistry of Hydrobionts" with no "the" at all. Jun 20, 2011 at 12:54
  • Quink Thanks, but what is the difference between The Laboratory of the Biochemistry of Hydrobionts and The Laboratory of Biochemistry of Hydrobionts
    – victor
    Jun 20, 2011 at 18:55
  • I don't know what a hydrobiont is, so let's just refer to it as "Cro-Magnons of the Alsace-Lorraine". "The Laboratory of the Biochemistry of Cro-Magnons of the Alsace-Lorraine" means that "Biochemistry of Cro-Magnons of the Alsace-Lorraine" is an actual entity. In which case you should use a capital "T" with "The". I think. Also @victor my name is @Feral Oink not @Feral Quink My picture gives a clue. It is a piggy, a babirusa in fact. Piggies go "oink!" not "quink", well usually they do. But I laughed, because I like "Quink!" too. Jun 20, 2011 at 19:18
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It's going to depend on the context. Is it the Laboratory of Biochemistry which is studying Hydrobionts, or a "general" (i.e. not specialized in biochemistry) laboratory which is studying the biochemistry of hydrobionts?

If it's a biochem lab, drop the the before biochemistry. If it's a general lab, keep the definite article to show it's the focus of the research — the biochemistry of the hydrobionts.

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