Article "the" used with countable noun for the first time

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rogigor
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Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2019 1:18 pm
Status: Learner of English

Article "the" used with countable noun for the first time

Post by rogigor »

Hi,

I'm working on an installation manual and I argue with my collegue whether I should use "the". For example there's a step in the manual that says:

"Loosen the two side screws."
or
"Remove the dust cover."
Below each step is a picture showing what needs to be done (showing the side screws or the dust cover).

He says that since I mention these screws/this dust cover for the first time I should not use any article as this is confusing. Only If I mention them later in the document I can use "the".
I say that this is a countable noun and is specific so "the" is correct. "Remove a dust cover" or "Remove dust cover/Loosen two side screws" seems to me like a mistake.

Am I right or should I remove "the" from these steps?
darcy
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Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:42 am
Status: Teacher of English

Re: Article "the" used with countable noun for the first time

Post by darcy »

Hi rogigor

If there are only two side-screws, you should say ‘Loosen the two side-screws.’ If there are more than two but only two of them must be loosened, say ‘Loosen two side-screws.’ (without ‘the’). If there are more than two but you have already identified which two you are writing about, then use ‘the’.

The same with the dust cover. I’m guessing there’s only one, so it’s a specific dust cover, so ‘Remove the dust cover.’

Sometimes, instruction manuals leave out words like ‘the’ as a kind of shortened note form. But in the first example above, that could lead to a misunderstanding.
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