(The) Definite Article

Ken Adams is discussing definite articles over at his blog today.  The question is whether it’s appropriate or necessary to include the “the” before a defined term such as Vendor.  I’ll let Ken explain it in his own words.

In the ensuing small comment debate, I wrote a second response that apparently “muddied the waters” of the discussion.  But I felt the last argument had merit and I wanted to discuss it further with you.

Here’s my second (unpublished) post:

Oh, I agree… it IS semantics. But when I’m drafting/reviewing/editing 200+ documents/year, sometimes that’s all I have. 🙂

My average template software license and services agreement is more than 35 pages long. If my opponent decides that they want to change VENDOR to ACME, I have to be honest and say that I don’t want to have to go through the document again to remove each instance of “the” in front of ACME – because most likely, they’ve done it about 2 or 3 revisions in (when it’s not as easy to just undo and re-do properly).

In thinking about it more, however, aren’t we actually converting the defined term into a proper noun? And in doing so, putting a definitive in front of it is actually incorrect for the same reasons why you don’t say “The Acme” or “The Jeff”?

Specifically, I think that the use of a defined term might convert that term into proper noun… and even if it doesn’t automatically, it would if the item it’s defining is a proper noun.  In other words, “Vendor” would be  a defined term that would also now convert into a proper noun because it’s serving as a replacement for “Acme Corp”, which is already a proper noun.  On the other hand, “Services” might not be a proper noun, as the term Services is typically defined as “the work performed by the Vendor”.


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