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Could someone check my reasoning for my answer to the following exercise (from C.E. Eckersley's 'A comprehensive English Grammar', Chapter seven, the definite article, exercise II, part 13)?

Insert the definite article where necessary for the following:

___ world opinion is against ___ aggression

My answer is 'the world opinion is against aggression'. My reasoning is that 'aggression' is uncountable and used generically and thus doesn't require 'the', while 'world opinion' is used generically in the singular and thus requires 'the'. (I may be entirely wrong so someone correct me)

Also, is there any way of differentiating a countable noun used generically in the singular and that in the singular used to refer to something in particular? Would it be correct to say that 'the world opinion' could be a term used generically or that used to refer to the world opinion in particular?

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Hi, May123,

According to the key of the book (which you can find here), the answer is "no article" (zero article) in both noun phrases:

Actually, we can say either "the world opinion" or "world opinion" depending on whether the opinion is about something specific that has already been mentioned or not.

When "aggression" is used generically (i.e. not referring to a particular case of aggression), the zero article is the only option.

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor

According to the key of the book (which you can find here), . . .



Great find, Gustavo. I just found a pdf of the book itself here.

. . . the answer is "no article" (zero article) in both noun phrases:



Yes, and the applicable Eckersley rule for this exercise is Rule 1 at the bottom of page 58: "[The definite article is not used:] Before abstract nouns used in a general sense, e.g. - Life is very hard for some people (NOT: 'the life'). We will have freedom or death (NOT: 'the freedom,' etc.)."

Actually, we can say either "the world opinion" or "world opinion" depending on whether the opinion is about something specific that has already been mentioned or not.

I agree. Incidentally, it is much more common now, at least in American English, to speak of "public opinion" instead of "world opinion," which may have been more common when the Eckersleys' books were published (in the 1950s). On COCA, "public opinion" returns 7385 results and "world opinion" only 292.

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