Re: Use of the definite article before product names

Subject: Re: Use of the definite article before product names
From: Bill Burns <BillDB -at- ILE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 08:33:19 -0700

Stephen writes:

> Should the definite article be used BEFORE the name of a product, when it
> is in the form of "alphabet soup names", such as FOM-59, SPD-4, or LSD-1?
> The following examples from a recent data sheet should give an idea of of
> the type of text:
>
> The ASP-20 Short Range Modem operates synchronously at full or half duplex
> over unconditioned lines. It has a range of xx km (xx miles) and operates
> at data rates from xx kbps up to xx kbps (xx kbps optional).
>
8< snip >8

> The general rule is that one does not usually use the definite article
> before a proper noun, such as the name of a person, geographical entity or
> certain well-known abbreviations (UNESCO ...) But I am quite convinced
> that
> the definite article should be used before the name of a product as shown
> above.
>
The key here is "proper noun." A product name is not really a proper noun,
since it consititues a class of objects rather than a specific object. You
should use the definite article. If the initialism uniquely identified an
object, the case might be different. However, some proper nouns do take
definite articles (for example, the UN and the UK, both as initials and
spelled out).

Bill Burns
Senior Technical Writer/Technology Consultant
ILE Communications
billdb -at- ile -dot- com




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