"solar activity" vs "the solar activity"



As not a native speaker, I often have difficulties with English articles. Could anybody tell me, is there any difference in the meaning or correctness of the following sentences:

1. "Predictions suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s."

2. "Predictions suggest that the solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s."

Are there situations when one version is more relevant than another? I know that in the case of verbal nouns (like "activity") indefinite articles can (or must?) be dropped. But what is about "the"?

Thank you in advance,
  • vincix

    Senior Member
    In the newspapers, articles (grammatical articles :)) are usually omitted, regardless of whether under normal circumstances they are correct or not. The whole idea is that headlines should be as concise as possible, and any information that is not essential is removed.

    On the other hand, your sentence doesn't seem to be a headline. It's too long, too "redundant".

    I'm not sure about the difference between "the" and the zero article in this case. To me it is insignificant, but a native speaker should be able to clear things up for us.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The sun is always active, to some degree, and that activity is solar activity, no article. It's not a specific (part/kind of) solar activity. But we can talk about the solar activity of a period, the solar activity in 2014 for example, or the solar activity when sunspots are at the peak of their cycle. Here 'the' picks out this specific part of the whole. Your example sentence is better without 'the', as it means activity generally, though you could then go on and talk about the activity during the 2030s.
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