I'm writing an experimental process description and I feel like i'm overusing 'the'.

  1. The plastic tube leading out the bottom of the Vayyar equipment (again the tube on the left) is fed through the hole of the data lid and into the sample container
  2. The syringe is retracted slightly and placed into the holder, the tip of the syringe sits at the far left of the mount (pointing towards the wall) with the handle in the moving part of the syringer

However i can't see what else could be used, does anyone have any suggestions?

  • 1
    Out of interest, what is your first language? This looks fine to me. I don't think you can really overuse "the". There is no alternative to the definite article.
    – Tim Foster
    Jul 12, 2019 at 9:21
  • My first language is English but i'm Dyslexic and Autistic so i'm not great at language.
    – Tasty213
    Jul 12, 2019 at 9:22
  • Hello, Tasty. Don't worry. Nobody really notices unstressed the's. It's usually when they're missing that things become a problem. / Things you can adjust: the first person nominative personal pronoun (I) is always capitalised, even though it feels like 'you' should be the one given special treatment. And using a comma between main clauses (as in your last sentence) is usually bad practice. Jul 12, 2019 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


Different writing styles call for different approaches. Documenting an experimental process emphasizes clarity over anything else, so reusing "the" is less of a concern than if you were writing a novel. For example, I rewrote step 5 as if I were proofreading fiction. There are fewer thes, but I don't think it's as descriptive and reproducible as what you wrote.

Feed a tube leading out of the Vayyar equipment's bottom-left through a hole in the data lid and into a sample container.

  • The rewrite doesn't just make things less clear, it actively misleads. 'Feed a tube ...' when there's only one sends novices into panic. Tim Foster essentially states that substituting 'the' is not an option. Jul 12, 2019 at 13:13

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