English as a Second Language/The definite article


Dear Professor,

Please look at these sentences:

1. Plants have developed ways of protecting themselves because they are always in danger from animals.

2. Use of this product is subject to licence.

The grammar book says "The is used before nouns consisting of noun+of+noun", so why it is not used in the above two examples.

Thanks in advance for your guideline.

Kind regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

English has flexible rules so you should not get hung up on what is supposed to be or not supposed to be.  There is a difference between what is known as descriptive and prescriptive grammar. The book you are citing is prescriptive, but language does not work in a box.

In the first example given, the definite article is snot used, and I'm guessing since I do not have all of the information, because the essay is about all plants, in general.  Were the definite article to have been used, then the essay would have been about one particular plant.

In the second example, the definite article could have been used, but it'not necessary since its existence is implied.  IN much the same way that when, someone asks, "Did you do it", you can respond, "Yes.".

English as a Second Language

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Christopher M Salisbury


I can answer almost any question within the field of second language acquisition (SLA) and pedagogical theories in second language teaching.


As part of my MA in linguistics, I have taken several classes in SLA and as well, I have been a teacher and tutor of English and English as a second language (ESL).

I have a BA in English and an MA in linguistics.

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