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A Russian colleague has insisted my use of an article in a review is incorrect. I feel although it may be superfluous, it isn't incorrect. The sentence reads:

I believe that progressive learning of English is possible through fun interactions with the kids, but I never forget about discipline.

Is the use of the before 'kids' incorrect? Or simply old fashioned/unnecessary?

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    AFAIK, Russian Language speakers do not use articles, so I would take what your friend says with a grain of соль That said, all of this would depend on the context, as the definite article the refers to specific kids or groups, and the zero article would refers to ALL kids. Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 16:32
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    Context is an issue- have you mentioned kids previously in this text? Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 16:37
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    As the other commenters say, context is key, and 'I believe that progressive learning of English is possible through fun interactions with the kids, but I never forget about discipline.' is unlikely to be the first sentence. 'The' would be licensed, mandatory in fact, if one intended this to mean 'one's own kids' (unlikely here), and available if one had already mentioned teaching children English. And in fact the 'I never forget about discipline' post-defines the children involved, making the use of the article probably the better choice.. Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 16:47
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    The clause "but I never forget about discipline" implies that you are referring to the kids you teach in your classroom. If this is the case, then the definite article is in my opinion the better choice. It is certainly not incorrect. This has nothing to do with whether or not the usage is old-fashioned.
    – Shoe
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 16:47

3 Answers 3

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I believe that progressive learning of English is possible through fun interactions with the kids, but I never forget about discipline.

The definite article is only licensed if the noun is known to the speaker and listener. This can be done by

(1) general knowledge "The Moon is bright" - we are all aware of the Moon.

(2) previous reference (I saw a boy. The boy was tall) or postpositional reference "The boy was tall. Apparently, he was the son of the blacksmith."

The directs the listner's/reader's attention to a specific noun: one that is described or defined.

Without "the", "kids" = kids in general.

In your example, "the kids" indicate a specified group and the nature of that group must be known to both the writer and reader/listener.

In your example, you have not described any group, so "the" is wrong. Your audience would ask "Which kids?".

It may be that you have mentioned and defined/specified this group of kids in an earlier part of the speech/article if so then "the" would be appropriate.

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It's correct to include the definite article if the speaker is talking about their experience teaching English as a second language to children.

But if we give weight to the intro "I believe," then the statement becomes more about the speaker's teaching philosophy, which is general and rather abstract, and therefore omitting the definite article would be best.

I imagine that your Russian colleague has spent considerable effort trying to get articles right, as this is a major challenge for Russian speakers. It's good that this person has given articles so much thought.

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  • That a Russian speaker may or may not have spent considerable time and thought to the usage of articles in English does not mean their correction is valid.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 6:14
  • @Mari-LouA - No. Agreed. I was just suggesting a diplomatic way that OP might discuss the difference of opinion with the colleague. Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 6:17
  • We're not about Interpersonal Skills.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 6:22
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    Referring to "I believe" I would say that it does make the statement more about the speaker's teaching philosophy but if the speaker is expressing a philosophy relating to classroom teaching then "the kids" is still correct as they are talking about "the kids in a class" even though "a class" is abstract. I also think that the vast majority of native speakers would use the definite article in this and similar cases, particularly if they were being sufficienly informal as to use "kids" rather than "children".
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 6:33
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    @BoldBen - My mind's ear can hear it either way. Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 4:19
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'The' used in the sentence is incorrect.

the kids- You have mentioned them before. They are already known to us.

Kids- kids in general, all kids in the world

the kids- a particular group of kids

We do not use 'the' with a general meaning. We use 'the' with a specific meaning.

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  • This answer is too general (although it is correct for this case): "The tiger is a dangerous animal," is a perfectly good English sentence, and means all tigers are dangerous. Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 10:57
  • Peter Shor, I wanted to answer the specific question. Of course,// "The tiger is a dangerous animal," is a perfectly good English sentence, and means all tigers are dangerous.// 'The dog is a faithful animal' means all dogs are faithful. (The dog=dogs in general, all dogs in the world). Thanks for contribution to my answer. Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 5:06

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