Which is correct please?
1. The number of students who got high marks is big.
2. The number of the students who got high marks is big.

3. (Students/The students) who passed the exam will be given prizes.
It is somewhat confusing because I just feel that they are all correct with or without the definite article (the).
Original Post
When we use a/the number of ___ we never use the definite article, Tonyjab. In fact, we don't use any article at all before the noun that's placed in that blank. So sentence 1 is correct.

In no. 3 we need to use the definite article:

The students who passed the exam will be given prizes.

The reason is that we are talking about an actual exam and a specific group of students, not just students in general. I know this because pass is in the past tense, which means it was a real exam actually given to a specific group of students.

If the sentence were generalized, we wouldn't use the definite article:

Students who pass the exam will be given prizes.
I think this comes down to a matter of style, Tonyjab.

The sentence you've supplied above works fine and could stand for students in general or the students who got high marks on a specific exam that's being discussed. It's a very interesting sentence, my friend, because I'm equally comfortable with or without the definite article here.

The difference I feel intuitively is that without the definite article, the meaning can be more inclusive and take in any students who got high marks on any exam in the past. With the definite article, I know only that group of students who took that specific exam is being discussed.

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