"Reference of the actor who is granted access" vs "The reference of the actor who is granted access"?

Should we put "The" at the beginning of the sentence?

  • 2
    "Reference of the actor who is granted access" is not a sentence. Can you give us some of the words that come before and after this text? Or is it a headline/title, to which normal grammatical rules do not apply? – Shoe Apr 7 '20 at 9:50

All singular countable nouns require to be qualified by a determiner, e.g. the; a/an; any; his/her/my, etc; that; this; a genitive noun, etc.

Uncountable nouns and plural nouns may or may not be qualified by a determiner, although obviously, "a/an" cannot be used with (a) uncountable nouns (unless they have a partitive qualifier) (b) plural nouns

In this context, reference is a singular countable noun.

  • Uncountable nouns and plural nouns are not bound by this guidance. This is vague and open to misinterpretation. It seems to be saying it's up to you whether you use "the" or not, instead of "there are situations where no determiner appears before a noun". Can you reword it? – CJ Dennis Apr 10 '20 at 3:12
  • @CJDennis I have added a little but you will appreciate that the question is about "reference", which is countable, rather than "the properties of uncountable nouns", which would be an aside and very lengthy. – Greybeard Apr 10 '20 at 9:04

The noun "reference" can be treated as both countable and uncountable (look up "reference" in any online dictionary). Here's an example from a book on linguistics:

"...In other functions they are replaced by fuller forms "someone/somebody" and "anyone/anybody" for HUMAN REFERENCE, "something" and "anything" for NON-HUMAN REFERENCE".

In the above example you might use the indefinite article but don't have to. If it was "a human reference", the sentence would be just as fine. As I see it, many deverbal nouns like "reference" (which originated from the verb "to refer") can be looked at either as a process (no indefinite article) or an event (the indefinite article required).

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