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Hope you are well.

What is the function of the article "THE" in the following sentence?

"The role of THE student at university level varies greatly from country to country."

Why has the writer written a "the" in front of the word "student"? According to grammar books, the use of the article "the" in front of a noun makes that noun SPECIFIC. I think the use of "the" in front of the word "student" is WRONG because we are NOT talking about any SPECIFIC student. We are talking about the word "student" in general. Therefore, no article "the" is needed in front of it.

What do you think? Please explain your reasons.

I love grammar a lot, and I am working as much as I can on my English grammar.
Thank you


If I were writing this sentence, I would write it thus:

The role of students at the university level varies greatly from country to country.

But if we insist on staying the singular construction, the article "the" is required both before "student" and before "university."

In this case, we are speaking of students as a specific class of people, and the class is specific. Likewise, we are discussing a specific academic level in the case of "university level."

Very few native speakers would leave out either "the," and most native readers or listeners would think the construction somewhat strange when those are left out. Not incomprehensible, but a bit odd.

Hope this helps.

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Dan Smith


I have been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years, taught speech and English composition at the university level, and have developed speech and English composition courses and seminars for businesses. I am experienced in editing a wide variety of materials, especially business, scientific, and other academic papers. I am familiar with all the major style guides.


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