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I came across people using all the in sentences instead of all.

Select the type of user to view all the users of that type. All the users of the selected role are displayed.

I usually strike out the after all. Is there any justification that I can give my team on why the seems out of place in the above example? Are there any rules of grammar for or against using the article after all?

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  • maybe we should include "all of the" in your question to make it more complete. For example: "All of the bikes are in the driver's blind spot."
    – b.roth
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 8:45
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    According to COCA, “all the <plural-noun>” is extremely common, even in academic writing. It is much more common than “all of the <plural-noun>”. I think it is totally standard. Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 12:41

4 Answers 4

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This has nothing to do with "all" and everything to do with "the".

You should use "the" wherever a definite article is required. ("The" is a definite article as opposed to "a/an" which are indefinite articles)

EXAMPLE

For example, if I say, "Let's read the book," I mean a specific book. If I say, "Let's read a book," I mean any book rather than a specific book.

Here's another way to explain it: The is used to refer to a specific or particular member of a group. For example, "I just saw the most popular movie of the year." There are many movies, but only one particular movie is the most popular. Therefore, we use the.

PS: You can say, "Lets read all the books." This is because you know which lot of books you are referring to. On the other hand, "Let's read all books" - sounds odd!!

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  • "Select the type of user to view all the users of that type. All the users of the selected role are displayed." This can be alternatively written as follows: "Select user type to view all the users of that type. All the users of the selected role are displayed." or "Select user type to view all the users of that type. Users matching the selected role are displayed." Or better yet - "Select a user type to see the list of all matching profiles/roles." Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 6:41
  • Your statement sounds odd not because "the" being wrongly placed after "all". It is merely because of wordiness. Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 6:47
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    Thanks, Prateek. My contention is "all the" is a replacement for "all of the". which could be replaced with "all". "Select the type of user to view all users of that type. All users of the selected role are displayed."
    – Jax
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 6:52
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All the users and all of the users are interchangeable. With the, the reference is to specific items (e.g. the users of this program).

However, all users is general, referring to every user in the world. It is not interchangeable with all the users/all of the users.

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In a limited universe of discourse (eg a particular system), there may be little to choose between "all the users" and "all users".

In a context which is not so limited, there could be a great difference, as Prateek explained.

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Check out this -

I watched a beautiful movie last day. All the actors acted well. ( means actors of that movie)

Is equivalent to

I watched a beautiful movie last day. All actors in the movie acted well .

If he just says "All actors acted well" , it's grammatically misleading. As if he is speaking about all actors in the Earth !!

And it's actually pointless to use "All the actors in the movie" here.If you want to use it , avoid mentioning " in the movie " .

Hope you got it ;)

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  • I'd like to advise you to read your answer again and fix some grammatical mistakes and typos.
    – user140086
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 13:49

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