I have serious problems about 'the'. I am writing a paper ... in this paper, I introduced two ideas at some point, and I wrote:

"But the stigmatising claim about the XXXX was more complicated in that its construction relied on two things – first, defining their activities as inherently order-threatening transgressions, and second, reporting some facts to indicate that these transgressions were 'objectively' large in scale"

In later analysis, I wrote:

"Overall, rejection of reported facts about the events helped informants question the stigmatising claim concerning the XXX."

Here I didn't use 'the' in front of 'reported facts'.

But I also wrote sentences like this:

"Overall, 9 informants from the primary sample expressed trust in the reported facts about the events "

Here I used 'the', and I think it 'sounds' better but dunno why! Maybe I am wrong?Emotion: rolleyes

In this sentence: ""The data reveal that informants rejecting the reported facts alone without questioning the definitions of the events would only 'partially resist' but did not fully oppose censuring the XXX. ", I am very tempted to remove the two 'the' in front of 'reported facts' and 'definitions' here since I think it sounds better ... and again without knowing why!

It seems two rules I learnt from English grammar confused me here. On the one hand, it seems I can use the two terms without 'the' since I am talking about those 'reported facts' or 'definitions' in general - so I can use generalised plurals in the context of my paper. But on the other hand, it seems once I introduced these two terms/things, I can also use 'the' since these two terms / things are already known to the reader, and to follow this logic to extremes it seems I 'must' use 'the' since I am really talking about something I have already mentioned!

Can anyone help???Emotion: phew I am really puzzled ...
ChaCha7I have serious problems about 'the'. I am writing a paper ... in this paper, I introduced two ideas at some point, and I wrote:

"But the stigmatising claim about the *** was more complicated in that its construction relied on two things – first, defining their activities as inherently order-threatening transgressions, and second, reporting some facts to indicate that these transgressions were 'objectively' large in scale"

In later analysis, I wrote:

"Overall, rejection of the reported facts about the events helped informants question the stigmatising claim concerning the ***."

Here I didn't use 'the' in front of 'reported facts'. - you need to use "the" if you are talking about specific facts (the reported ones). But if you are making a generally true statement, do not use "the." i.e. we say "Lemons are yellow." and do not say "the lemons are yellow". .
But I also wrote sentences like this:

"Overall, 9 informants from the primary sample expressed trust in the reported facts about the events "

Here I used 'the', and I think it 'sounds' better but dunno why! Maybe I am wrong? You were correct this time, since you are not stating a general truth, but the observation that these (particular) informants expressed trust in (these particular) reported facts

Hm ... a very thoughtful reply, thanks!

But your reply also led me ponder what is 'general' in actual writing. Grammar books always recommend the use of 'generalised plurals' as one way of saying things as all the members of a particular category. Like 'lemons are yellow', but not 'the lemons are yellow' (of course one can say 'the lemon is yellow' in some 'professional context'). But all examples given in these grammar books are really talking about very 'general' things. "Lemons", "books", "bottles", "staples" and so on.

But in actual writing, I ponder if writers will (need to) establish our own universe of things, which in turn guides the use of grammar regarding how to say things that are general in the writer's own universe.

I encounter something like this in an academic article about visitors to the museum (and numerous similar examples):
"This visitor research is based on semi-structured interviews carried out with 20 visitor
groups (comprising 45 individuals in total). Visitors were asked briefly to say what they already knew about the Rhondda before they started their visit."

Here the author uses 'visitors' in the 2nd sentence. As a reader, I think I know what s/he means - s/he is referring to 'all visitors in the research" rather than all visitors that has been to the museum (which may be thousands!). So am I correct that 'generalised plurals' can be used in this way - meaning all things of a particular category in the writer's context?

If yes, I have a slightly different interpretation of your reply:

"Overall, rejection of the reported facts about the events helped informants question the stigmatising claim concerning the ***."

Here I didn't use 'the' in front of 'reported facts'. - you need to use "the" if you are talking about specific facts (the reported ones). But if you are making a generally true statement, do not use "the." i.e. we say "Lemons are yellow." and do not say "the lemons are yellow". .

In the paper, I established very early that what 'reported facts about the events' mean in my 'research context (assuming 'about' is still the preposition used). Yes, I tend to think that I can use 'report facts about the events' without 'the' when I want to say all the reports facts about the events (but not some). Am I correct?

But I also encounter another problem - since the 'reported facts about the events' always recurr in the paper, sometimes I think another grammar rule is also valid - that is, use 'the' when you refer to things that have been talked about before. You wrote:

"Overall, 9 informants from the primary sample expressed trust in the reported facts about the events " You were correct this time, since you are not stating a general truth, but the observation that these (particular) informants expressed trust in (these particular) reported facts

The use of 'the' here is to mean that those 9 informants trusted 'all reported facts about the events'. I am not thinking about whether I am stating a general truth here actually. But why I use 'the' here:? I really don't know. Since I think with or without 'the', in the context of my paper, I am talking about 'all reported facts'!!

This is why I think I am confused by two grammar rules. I hope I have made my puzzles clearer instead of creating more confusions ....
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After some serious thinking, I have started to ponder if the issue of with or without 'the' in any discussion context is somewhat an issue of judging / guessing if the readers will know what you mean in that particular context of writing. I need to quote some texts of my paper at some length (sorry ...) since I think the context of my paper (or any other writing) has great bearing to the choice of 'the'.

At the early part of my paper, I set out my 'universe' that I am going to talk about all 'transgressions' in a particular festival. I wrote:

"But the stigmatising claim about the revellers in the xxx festival was more complicated in that its construction relied on two textual devices – first, defining their activities as inherently order-threatening transgressions (all transgressions in the festival will be one focus of my paper), and second, reporting some facts to indicate that these transgressions were ‘objectively’ large in scale."

Then later, I wrote:

"In fact, even if the facts about transgressions were accurately represented (such as accepting that there was graffiti or litter), the official definitions of transgressions were still objectionable (here I use 'the' since I want to remind the readers that the 'official definitions' mentioned in this sentence is NOT ALL official definitions of transgressions in the world but actually 'THE' official definitions of transgressions in the festival mentioned before) and . First, many activities of the revellers (such as littering or snow-spraying) were just ordinary festive activities, and activities of a similar nature were regarded as normal or as a minor deviance in other contexts. Furthermore, even though some activities were unpleasant (such as graffiti), they did not amount to a ‘riot’ or ‘disaster’. Defining these activities as constitutive of a ‘riot’ or ‘disaster’ totally played up the seriousness of the disorder - these terms should be reserved for describing ‘genuine’ serious events such as large-scale disturbances or natural disasters but not just ‘unpleasant’ activities such as graffiti. Finally, official definitions of festive behaviour were one-dimensional (here I left out 'THE' in front of 'official definitions' since I think I have been talking about 'the' definitions of transgressions in the festival at this point, and it should be clear that the 'universe' of the official definitions is limited to my paper only. So using 'official definitions' without 'THE' means all the official definitions in my paper context, and this should not be ambiguous to the readers), only focusing on how the revellers deviated from social norms but neglecting the possible social, cultural and political meanings of the events. If we accept that the revellers vandalised public property, it might indicate a certain degree of social unrest, and the graffiti also suggested that some people did not have enough expressive space in public spaces. But these possibilities were ignored and described as ‘vandalism’ or ‘animalistic’ in official definitions (I left out 'THE' in front of official definitions here for the same reasons stated above). "

I would have added back 'the' in the above cases without 'the' - I think both are correct. Leaving out 'the', however, made some sentences simplier. Academic papers are already 'wordy', leaving out 'the' without making the text ambiguous should be the goal ??

The above are some of my thoughts, and I truly hope some serious writers can comment on this, thank you very much Emotion: embarrassed And by the way, I am not a native speaker, so forgive me if you spot some grammatical errors in the above writing ...
i know I wrote too many words ... but can anyone help ? To save your time, can anyone just comment on my last post? Thank you ...
Chacha:
Here are some more comments. Beware that I am not professional writer; I'm only using my "native language" sensibilities.

In fact, even if the facts about the transgressions (you refer to specific incidents in the festival, so the definite article is needed) were accurately represented (such as accepting that there was graffiti or litter), these (use these to circumscribe or limit the scope to the definitions cited previously) official definitions of transgressions (here, omitting "the" is OK because you mean not any transgressions specific to the festival, but all transgressions, no matter what or where) were still objectionable.
Finally, these official definitions of festive behaviour were one-dimensional (same reason as above).
Official definitions of festive behavior were one-dimensional. -- This means you are stating a principle or general truth, that all official definitions used to be one-dimensional, but now they might be different (because they have been redefined). .
If you omit the definite article, then you should be able to insert "all" and still end up with a principle or general truth.

Lemons are yellow. - -> All lemons are yellow.
Lemons used to be yellow, but now there are green varieties also. - -> (All lemons used to be yellow, but...)

The lemons are yellow - -> these particular fruits are yellow.
Visitors must wear a badge. - -> All visitors must wear a badge.
Visitors were required to wear badges. ( All visitors were required to wear badges. - In the past tense, it implies something has changed, and it is no longer true.)
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