I wonder if that is correct to leave "the" out if the noun that is followed by it precedes a restrictive clause, such as:

and government-affiliated kindergartens in cities that were selected by random sampling all across the seven geographical regions.

So should we always say "in the cities"?

PS: The sentence belongs in a scholarly context.

Thanks in advance!


You do not need to use "the" in this case. You can use it and it's fine. I like it without "the" personally. We use "the" to define or point to a specific thing or article or set of things we are referring to.

You didn't use "the" in front of "government-affiliated kindergartens" right? Why not? Because there is no need to do so. You are speaking about kindergartens in general (even though they happen to be a set from the sample) and not any specific one, or set.

For that matter you could leave "the" off of seven geographical regions but the makes it more concrete that you are speaking about a specific set of seven regions from the sampling. The is an article used to direct our attention that we are speaking about a specific thing(s).

Generally speaking plural nouns do not need an article but there are always exceptions.

Jim made a comment about my statement regarding plural nouns and that there are a few too many exceptions to call that a rule. Let's just explore it a little more. I don't disagree. It's a good point.

Jim's examples in the comments:

  1. The forks are in the drawer on the right.
  2. The letters on the table need to be mailed.

In these cases we usually do want to use the because it's at the beginning of a sentence and we want to refer to a specific set of forks or letters; without it the sentence structure can be a little odd. But otherwise it's not nearly as necessary to use the. It's important to note that even in these examples it's not absolutely necessary. #1 above in particular sounds just fine without the. #2 is less idiomatic and you will only learn some of this through use of the language.

Let's look at the same examples where we rearrange the sentence and the becomes even more obviously optional (depending on if we want to stress a definite object/idea/thing)

  1. The drawer on the right has forks. (but you could say the forks)
  2. On the table are letters that need to be mailed. (same deal here)

We use the to refer to a specific object, abstract idea, thing, set of things, etc... It is very commonly optional for plural nouns but in certain situations it will sound strange (as pointed out at the beginning of some sentences).


Definite Article Usage

Purdue Article Usage

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  • Oh your reply helped a a great deal. Although I think I have a good command of English, it's because I mostly learned it through books and all kinds of media, I cannot explain why I use certain grammatical words in certain places. I just do. This was one of them. Thank you! – Reactor4 Jul 27 '17 at 13:29
  • I think your last statement relies on too many “exceptions” The letters on the table need to be mailed. The cars on the freeway are all stopped. The forks are in the drawer on the right.... – Jim Jul 27 '17 at 20:23
  • @Jim Yes, I too wrestled with whether or not to include that last part. I did so because I actually found it in multiple places on some stack exchange sites, and a couple of others, but I tend to agree with you. This particular fellow has a good command of the English language. At any rate I'll revisit it and update the answer to point out the caveats. – Kace36 Jul 27 '17 at 20:40

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