Articles Exercise (502)

Revise each sentence to reflect correct use of the article "the."

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Firefighters’ job was complicated by the fact that the blaze traveled into attic space through the length and width of the building.
Correct : The firefighters’ job was complicated by the fact that the blaze traveled into the attic space through the length and width of the building.

The absence of an article before the subject is correct when using a collective noun to refer to a class of people, as in "Firefighters’ responsibilities have shifted from extinguishing blazes to responding to medical emergencies." When the noun refers to a specific group within the class "firefighters," however, the article is necessary. The insertion of "the" before "attic space" is not mandatory, but the sentence reads better with it.

2.
Original: Guillermo del Toro eventually had to give up "The Hobbit" director’s chair.
Correct : Guillermo del Toro eventually had to give up the director’s chair for "The Hobbit."

When an article appears in a composition title such as the name of a film, it cannot do double duty as an article in the syntax of the framing sentence; revise the sentence so that the article is not erroneously burdened with this additional role.

3.
Original: She is past president of National Organization for Women.
Correct : She is past president of the National Organization for Women.

When the name of an entity explicitly describes what type of entity it is ("organization" in the sentence example, or "bureau" in "Federal Bureau of Investigation," for example), the article "the" should precede the name in any reference to the organization, even if the organization’s self-referential style (on its website, for example, or in a brochure) omits the article.

4.
Original: The term is often credited to the economist John Kenneth Galbraith.
Correct : The term is often credited to economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

Insertion of the article "the" preceding an epithet, or description of a person, that is in turn followed by the person’s name is not incorrect, and such usage persists in some publications, but it seems pedantic and is outmoded.

5.
Original: The desk and the chair look cramped in that corner.
Correct : The desk and chair look cramped in that corner.

If two items are so closely related that they constitute a single entity, as with an office desk and its accompanying chair, an article preceding the first element of the entity can apply to both items. As in the previous example, "the" is not wrong, but it’s unnecessary.

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