As a non-native speaker, I'm often unsure whether I should put the before certain words. I'm currently writing an academic paper and I have this problem with the phrase "deprivation of liberty", which I need to use a lot.

Take this sentence, for example:

The Committee has interpreted the CRPD as outlawing (the) deprivation of liberty on the basis of disability.

Should I write "the deprivation of liberty" or "deprivation of liberty" is alright? I feel like the sentence would sound better if this the is omitted (there are too many the's already), but I would bear with it if not using the article here would be a mistake.

I checked some official legal documents where the phrase is frequently used. Here're some examples:

article 14(1)(b) prohibits the deprivation of liberty on the basis of actual or perceived impairment

extensive discussions on the need to include a qualifier, such as “solely” or “exclusively”, in the prohibition of deprivation of liberty

include a provision for periodic review of the deprivation of liberty

the absolute ban of deprivation of liberty on the basis of actual or perceived impairment

I noticed that they omitted the definite article in sentences where another definite article is used close to the phrase in question (preceding it). Is it an actual rule to follow, or just a coincidence? Are there even rules for these situations, or we can just write whatever sounds better? Should I use or omit the in my own example?

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    I suspect that you expect the rules for using the definite article to be more definite than they in fact are. – Hot Licks Mar 3 '18 at 22:36
  • @HotLicks haha maybe. It's just that my thesis supervisor remarked that I may (mistakenly) leave out definite articles, so I'm trying to pay more attention to them now. – lia Mar 3 '18 at 22:51
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    Keep in mind that this is English we're talking about. The "rules" could be different on the other side of town. – Hot Licks Mar 3 '18 at 22:58
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    The very idea of articles is the worst problem for huge numbers of foreigners learning English. That doesn't change the simple fact that usage of articles belongs not here but somewhere like English Language Learners. Either way, in a phrase like your example the article is a style choice… – Robbie Goodwin Mar 12 '18 at 20:04

Deprivation of Liberty is defined by the laws of the United Kingdom and thus, while still a noun phrase, is a single concept. In this sense the phrase does not require a determiner and can even be used attributively:

Deprivation of liberty doesn’t mean the care or treatment is bad or that the restrictions are inappropriate, it simply means that people need additional checks (called safeguards) to protect their human rights.

In England and Wales, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has a framework called the deprivation of liberty safeguards for this purpose. Scotland and Northern Ireland are currently developing their own legislation.

If one is discussing particular instances where deprivation of liberty (as legally defined) has occurred, one would tend to use an article:

For more information and advice about how to challenge a deprivation of liberty, or how to make sure that safeguards are being properly applied, contact one of the organisations listed below.

I suspect the sentences with the definite article you've cited discuss particular cases where the law applies.

The choice of whether to use an article or not has absolutely nothing to do with whether there are other a's and the's in the sentence.

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