the/a motive, (the) means, (the) physical evidence


Scully finds out evidence which seems to point to one of the suspects.
— He had the motive and the means. And now we have the physical evidence.
The X-Files, TV series

She refers to the specific motive he presumably had, specific means he presumably used, and the evidence she has just found out. Hence THE.

But I'm sure all these could have just as well been non-specific, abstract:
He had a motive and means. And now we have physical evidence.
This version even seems more natural to me:eek:

What do you think?
Thank you.
  • MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    It reads/sounds more like a "list" when it's phrased in its original form. It's as if there were a list of items that needed to be checked off in order to come to a conclusion.

    [x] We know he had the motive.
    [x] We know he had the means.
    [x] We have the physical evidence.

    So to me it sounds a bit more "assertive", for lack of better words, compared to the version you wrote.


    Do you mean there are three specific points that must be "satisfied". They are: 1. motive, 2. means, 3. evidence. And now all three are satisfied. Right?


    Thank you for the answers.

    And my "non-specific" version looks like "we have a motive, means, and evidence. There could be also something else, to be sure. But what we already have is enough to arrest him".
    Am I right?
    < Previous | Next >