human sciences <vs> the human sciences

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bobo85

Member
turkish
Hi everyone,
I have a question about the use of the definite article in English. Below are two sentences from a google search result:

"My work draws on concepts and methods from a range of approaches in the human sciences, including anthropology, actor-network theory, psychoanalysis, narratology and cultural geography."

"These papers were written by researchers from around the world; the topics covered a variety of disciplines and theoretical approaches in human sciences: psychology, anthropology, sociology, information and media sciences; computer sciences and engineering"

Now, what is the reason that "the" is used before "human sciences"in the first sentence but not in the second? Does it create a difference, even if subtle, in meaning?

Also, even regarding the phrase "the use of the definite article" I have some problems. I have encountered cases where the phrase appears without the definite article: "the use of definite article". So, is it optional in this case to use the definite article "the"?
Thank you very much,
Bobo
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    In <the + adj. + plural noun> phrases, "The <adj. + plural noun>" = "all the <adj. + plural noun>".

    of approaches in the human sciences, including anthropology, actor-network theory, psychoanalysis, narratology and cultural geography."

    In <[without 'the'] adj. + plural noun> phrases = <adj. + plural noun> in general

    the topics covered a variety of disciplines and theoretical approaches in human sciences: psychology, anthropology, sociology,

     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    In the first sentence only one science/discipline is being discussed, so "the" is appropriate to indicate the singular topic before listing its subdivisions. I would, none the less, consider "the" to be optional, zero article or "certain" would also be OK.

    In the second sentence further disciplines are listed:

    1/human sciences
    2/ information and media sciences
    (subdivision of 1),
    3/ computer sciences
    4/ engineering

    In the case of 2 and 4, information and engineering are uncountable nouns and thus zero article. We could use the article with 1 and 3 but it would make the sentence repetitive and break the flow. In these circumstances it is preferable to drop the article for all items listed.
     
    Last edited:

    bobo85

    Member
    turkish
    Dear PaulQ,
    Thank you very much. I just want to confirm if I got it correct: So, when I say "the human sicences" I am referring to all the sciences which are classified as a human science. Is this correct?

    And also, when I say "the human sciences", doesn't that implicitly refer to other sciences (for example, the natural sciences)? I thought this was the reason why "the" is used in such cases. But I guess you are saying otherwise?

    Finally, what exactly do you mean by "in general"?
    Thank you.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Dear PaulQ,
    Thank you very much. I just want to confirm if I got it correct: So, when I say "the human sciences I am referring to all the sciences which are classified as a human science. Is this correct?
    Yes.
    And also, when I say "the human sciences", doesn't that implicitly refer to other sciences (for example, the natural sciences)?
    No, 'human sciences' are a specific set of sciences.
    Finally, what exactly do you mean by "in general"?Thank you.
    "The dogs have four legs" = All the dogs (to which I am referring) have 4 legs. (These are specific dogs)
    "Dogs have four legs" = Dogs, as a class of animals, (i.e. dogs in general) have 4 legs.

    In your example, using "the human sciences" and "human sciences" is not as clear because the set of "human sciences, is abstract, so the generality and the specific are the same.

    However, you asked
    Does it create a difference, even if subtle, in meaning?
    and the answer is "Yes, but it is subtle. Your example is not the best for demonstrating it."
     
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