Why is there a definite article before the words darkness and light in the sentence below:

But as is so often true, the darkness lingers longer than the light.

And why is the expression in the dark/darkness usually followed by the but sometimes by no article (I can see in the darkness. / I saw someone climbing aboard in darkness.) Since the nouns are uncountable and not specified (in my examples) and the is not needed by the rules.

  • 1
    Light and darkness can appear both with or without the definite article. Where the article appears, it gives them a slightly more specific sense. There was a power cut and in the darkness, I couldn't find the door. It refers specifically to the darkness created by the power cut. But if I say "Light is better than darkness for finding your way around* neither is referring to any particular light or darkness. But this is not a hard and fast rule. One can leave out the article in specific cases too.
    – WS2
    Sep 21, 2021 at 21:03
  • But aren't the words in my first and second sentences referring to light and darkness in general?
    – zhabometr
    Sep 21, 2021 at 21:16
  • 2
    @zhabometr - we don't know because you did not give enough context, but, because it says the darkness, we assume that it is a darkness that has been previously mentioned or a darkness of which the reader is aware. Thus it is more specific.
    – Greybeard
    Sep 21, 2021 at 22:13
  • While endorsing @Greybeard's comment entirely, note that I did say that it is not a hard and fast rule. And you see exceptions both with and without article.
    – WS2
    Sep 22, 2021 at 7:38
  • @Greybeard - I've checked out the context of the sentence and found out that the author explains doings meant by the light and the author later.
    – zhabometr
    Sep 25, 2021 at 14:12


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