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Recently I have read a book in chemistry field, and I have encountered this sentence:

  • This is because typical metal Lewis acids are deactivated by the nitrogen atoms of the product formed that are more basic than those of the starting imine compound.

First of all, I would like to ask if this sentence shouldn't be rephrased to:

  • This is because typical metal Lewis acids are deactivated by the nitrogen atoms of the product formed , which are more basic than those of the starting imine compound.

Since which should be used when it refers to the whole antecedent noun compound (like in the presented example, which refers to "...the nitrogen atoms of the product formed...").

However, I would like to focus on "the" article in "the nitrogen atoms of the product formed".

Let's assume that we are taking about this compound:

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  1. Does the sentence relate to all nitrogen atoms (1, 2, 3, 4)? If yes, cannot we then just write:

    • This is because typical metal Lewis acids are deactivated by (no article) nitrogen atoms of the product formed that are more basic than those of the starting imine compound.
  2. What do you think about this sentence:

    • This is because typical metal Lewis acids are deactivated by any nitrogen atom of the product formed that are more basic than those of the starting imine compound.

In my opinion, if all of the nitrogen atoms or only two of them (e.g. 2, 3) are basic, this sentence covers both of the cases. Thus, this option may be more precise than the previous one.

  1. What would this sentence mean in the context:

    • This is because typical metal Lewis acids are deactivated by a nitrogen atom of the product formed that are more basic than those of the starting imine compound.

My problem here is that the author, by having written "the nitrogen atoms of the product formed" did not communicate, whether he referred to all of the atoms of the formed product or just to any of the nitrogen atom of the product formed which fulfils the criteria.

Why the the is used in this sentence?

Thank you for your answers.

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