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

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

Post by rogigor »

darcy wrote: Sat Jul 17, 2021 4:00 pm 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.
Hi, I want to ask about one more thing that confuses me a little. I'm creating an instruction on how to replace a particular tray in a server rack. The tray is secured with four M5 screws, that need to be removed to slide the tray out. Should I say:

- Remove the four M5 screws and slide out the tray.
or
- Remove four M5 screws and slide out the tray.

There are only four M5 screws that fix this tray in the server rack, however there are many different M5 screws there in general.
darcy
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Re: Article "the" used with countable noun for the first time

Post by darcy »

"Remove four M5 screws" could mean 'Remove just four of the many M5 screws' so it's not very clear. "Remove the four M5 screws" is clearer, but I would add more identification: "Remove the four M5 screws that secure the tray."
rogigor
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Re: Article "the" used with countable noun for the first time

Post by rogigor »

Just to be clear - there are only four m5 screws that hold the tray in place (the tray itself doesn't have any screws) and many other m5 screws in the whole rack in general. Still, it's correct to use the or specify as you wrote?
darcy
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Re: Article "the" used with countable noun for the first time

Post by darcy »

Yes.
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