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    Articles

    I see i have been the most active asker on the forum now. But my english is far from fluent now (but it will) so lots of questions arise.

    I read a book about the legal system of the USA. And I noticed that sometimes the author uses terms “suit”, “plaintiff” and “defendant” with articles and sometimes without articles. Here are some examples:

    With articles: 1) A plaintiff is a party, and so is a defendant. 2) In general, this is done by filing a suit for foreclosure in court and obtaining a court order to have the sheriff sell the property at auction.
    Without articles: 1) It sometimes happens that defendant already knows that plaintiff is filing suit and is willing to waive formal service of process. 2) Plaintiffs filing suit against administrative agencies must first exhaust their administrative remedies.

    I have tried to analyse the difference but failed. So I am wonder if some of you could clarify this.

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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    1) In legal writing the two parties' names are replaced by the words "defendant" and "plaintiff." So instead of writing "Mr. Chavez-Kostanopolis" everywhere in a document, they just use the appropriate word. You would not write "the Mr. Chavez-Kostanopolis". OTOH if you want to use the two words as ordinary nouns, then you would write "the defendant" etc. "It sometimes happens that the defendant already knows that the plaintiff is filing suit."

    2 "to file suit" view this as a phrasal verb
    "to file a suit" view this as an ordinary transitive verb.

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    I see i have been the most active asker on the forum now. But my English is far from fluent now (but it will be) so for now lots of questions arise.

    I read a book about the legal system of the USA. And I noticed that sometimes the author uses the terms “suit”, “plaintiff” and “defendant” with articles and sometimes without articles. Here are some examples:


    I have tried to analyse the differences but failed. So I am wondering if some of you could clarify this.
    You could say, "So, I wonder if..." taking out the "am"

    Also, most Americans that I know, would just say U.S. and not USA. So that is just a style thing, it is not incorrect to say USA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom View Post
    You could say, "So, I wonder if..." taking out the "am"

    Also, most Americans that I know, would just say U.S. and not USA. So that is just a style thing, it is not incorrect to say USA.
    Should I have used "the" before "terms" in my post because i pointed them out later? I am asking this because i thought i should omit the determinder as the words "suit”, “plaintiff” and “defendant” are mentioned at the first time so we do not know yet what "suit”, “plaintiff” and “defendant” we are talking about now.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    Should I have used "the" before "terms" in my post because i pointed them out later? I am asking this because i thought i should omit the determinder as the words "suit”, “plaintiff” and “defendant” are mentioned at the first time so we do not know yet what "suit”, “plaintiff” and “defendant” we are talking about now.
    You should look at it like this: by using the article you signal that there will follow a complete list or a description of what you mean. Example:

    a) Sometimes the author uses terms...
    b) Sometimes the author uses the terms...

    Given that the terms in question have not been defined previously to saying this, at this point in the utterance a person speaking English knows that:

    a) in this sentence there will be a broad definition at best, the topic are not specific terms. I would expect the sentence to continue like "... nobody can easily understand". While that would be a description of a property of the terms, it is not a property which defines them in such a way that you could tell which terms exactly are being referred to.

    b) in this sentence there will be either a list of terms (as in your example, where you list the exact three terms you mean) or some kind of definition which will at least make it possible to find out the exact terms, like if the sentence went on "... which Dr. Shmolinski defined as especially insulting in his seminal work How to Irritate People".

    So the answer to your question "Should I have used "the" before "terms" in my post because i pointed them out later?" is "Yes, definitely". And note that you are talking about the words, not the actual suit, plaintiff and defendant they might refer to in that specific case. Their meanings or references are entirely irrelevant here.

    By the way, the pronoun "I" is always capitalized.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    You should look at it like this: by using the article you signal that there will follow a complete list or a description of what you mean. Example:

    a) Sometimes the author uses terms...
    b) Sometimes the author uses the terms...

    By the way, the pronoun "I" is always capitalized.
    Thank you bitpicker very much! It was a great explanation!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chaika View Post
    1) In legal writing the two parties' names are replaced by the words "defendant" and "plaintiff." So instead of writing "Mr. Chavez-Kostanopolis" everywhere in a document, they just use the appropriate word. You would not write "the Mr. Chavez-Kostanopolis". OTOH if you want to use the two words as ordinary nouns, then you would write "the defendant" etc. "It sometimes happens that the defendant already knows that the plaintiff is filing suit."

    2 "to file suit" view this as a phrasal verb
    "to file a suit" view this as an ordinary transitive verb.
    Thank you. But could we dwell on it?
    1. As to "file suit". My first assumption was also that "to file suit" be a phrasal verb. I guess it is one. But i do not see the difference. Could you or anyone else explain?

    2. As to "defendant" "plaintiff" etc without a determiner. You explaination sounds reasonable and i have found the same on another one forum. The only thing makes me doubt is the contex of all other sentences with these words having no article. For examle:
    - As you can readily imagine, it is very important that each defendant be notified that he has been sued, and it is equally important that plaintiff be able to prove that each defendant was notified.
    - A motion to dismiss asks the judge to find that there is
    something wrong with a claim as it appears in plaintiff’s complaint.
    - If defendant’s evidence is so weak that a reasonable jury must find for plaintiff, then plaintiff
    should be granted summary judgment.
    - If the evidence is so strongly in favor of the defendant that a
    reasonable jury could never find in favor of the plaintiff, then defendant is entitled
    to summary judgment, and plaintiff loses, then and there.

    Please notice that in the last exampl "defendant" and "plaintiff" first mentioned with the determiner and then without any. All these sentences do not tell us a story of someone's lawsuit but explain us in general legal procedures. So "plaintiff" (without the determiner) does not substitute here for a name of a man who is the plaintiff in the case we are discussing now and we know this man. Do you understand what i am trying to say?

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    Thank you. But could we dwell on it?
    1. As to "file suit". My first assumption was also that "to file suit" is a phrasal verb. I guess it is one. But i do not see the difference. Could you or anyone else explain?
    "To file suit" is a phrasal verb because without the article "suit" is a necessary part of the verb phrase. You can't file photo or complaint, you can only file a photo or a complaint. There are many things you can file, but they need their articles. Among them is "a suit", so it is possible to use the transitive verb "file" with "a suit" just as you can use it with "a complaint".

    You can't say "that to file suit be a phrasal verb". It sounds as if you were telling the verb to go and be phrasal.

    2. As to "defendant" "plaintiff" etc without a determiner.
    (...)
    - If the evidence is so strongly in favor of the defendant that a
    reasonable jury could never find in favor of the plaintiff, then defendant is entitled
    to summary judgment, and plaintiff loses, then and there.

    Please notice that in the last example "defendant" and "plaintiff" are first mentioned with the determiner and then without any. All these sentences do not tell us a story of someone's lawsuit but explain to us in general legal procedures. So "plaintiff" (without the determiner) does not substitute here for a name of a man who is the plaintiff in the case we are discussing now and we know this man. Do you understand what i am trying to say?
    I suppose that in these examples the problem is the prepositional phrase. "Of plaintiff" simply sounds clumsy. But then again, legalese always sounds clumsy... So, don't worry too much about the fact that in legal terminology the words defendant and plaintiff may be used like names rather than descriptive terms, which then need articles, because in all other contexts you will have to use articles anyway. Only lawyers need to care about plaintiffs and defendants without articles.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    Only lawyers need to care about plaintiffs and defendants without articles.
    Thanks. It made me smile because I am a lawyer so I need to care. And I just want to understand the reason. I like the option saying that "plaintiff" without the determinder is just a replaced name of a man who is suing someone. But I do not believe that this is correct because in all such sentences the author speaks generally. And even in one sentence he uses both variants (with and without the determinder). I am completely confused

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    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    Thank you. But could we dwell on it?
    1. As to "file suit". My first assumption was also that "to file suit" be a phrasal verb. I guess it is one. But i do not see the difference. Could you or anyone else explain?

    2. As to "defendant" "plaintiff" etc without a determiner. You explaination sounds reasonable and i have found the same on another one forum. The only thing makes me doubt is the contex of all other sentences with these words having no article. For examle:
    - As you can readily imagine, it is very important that each defendant be notified that he has been sued, and it is equally important that plaintiff be able to prove that each defendant was notified.
    - A motion to dismiss asks the judge to find that there is
    something wrong with a claim as it appears in plaintiff’s complaint.
    - If defendant’s evidence is so weak that a reasonable jury must find for plaintiff, then plaintiff
    should be granted summary judgment.
    - If the evidence is so strongly in favor of the defendant that a
    reasonable jury could never find in favor of the plaintiff, then defendant is entitled
    to summary judgment, and plaintiff loses, then and there.

    Please notice that in the last example "defendant" and "plaintiff" first mentioned with the determiner and then without any. All these sentences do not tell us a story of someone's lawsuit but explain us in general legal procedures. So "plaintiff" (without the determiner) does not substitute here for a name of a man who is the plaintiff in the case we are discussing now and we know this man. Do you understand what i am trying to say?
    Hello, Timon; There is actually something else going in these sentences/phrases. The author is using a clipped style somewhat as in abbreviated personal notes, that an individual might take.

    “and it is equally important that () plaintiff be able to prove” could also have an article at ().

    “as it appears in () plaintiff’s complaint” also may have an article if one wishes.

    “- If (a/the) defendant’s evidence is so weak that a reasonable jury must find for (the) plaintiff, then (the) plaintiff should be granted summary judgment.”

    This last phrase “- If the evidence is so strongly in favor of the defendant that a
    reasonable jury could never find in favor of the plaintiff, then () defendant is entitled
    to summary judgment, and () plaintiff loses, then and there” is showing that you can in fact use an article as you expect, before ‘defendant’ and 'plaintiff'. The lack of articles at () is more the personal style of the particular writer, not a particular rule of English.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    Thanks. It made me smile because I am a lawyer so I need to care. And I just want to understand the reason. I like the option saying that "plaintiff" without the determinder is just a replaced name of a man who is suing someone. But I do not believe that this is correct because in all such sentences the author speaks generally. And even in one sentence he uses both variants (with and without the determinder). I am completely confused
    OK, in that case maybe it helps to see the words as variables or placeholders. You could supply A and B for plaintiff and defendant, and A and B would not take articles either.

    Furthermore it is not necessary for the article to be used only if it's a reference to a specific plaintiff Bob or a specific defendant Mary. Even when speaking generally you could write something like this (example for grammatical purposes, not for meaning!): Every suit includes a plaintiff and a defendant ("a" because we are introducing the concepts). It is the responsibility (definite article because while there may be more responsibilities than this one, it is the only one which interest us here) of the plaintiff (definite article because in a given suit there is exactly one) to prove the guilt (definite article because a further definition follows) of the defendant (definite article for the same reason as with "plaintiff").

    And in legalese the definite articles can be dropped from "plaintiff" and "defendant" because they are placeholders.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seraph View Post
    This last phrase “- If the evidence is so strongly in favor of the defendant that a reasonable jury could never find in favor of the plaintiff, then () defendant is entitled to summary judgment, and () plaintiff loses, then and there” is showing that you can in fact use an article as you expect, before ‘defendant’ and 'plaintiff'. The lack of articles at () is more the personal style of the particular writer, not a particular rule of English.
    Thank you. Having read your explanation I think about the following: lets say I am passing some English test and have written this sentence in the quote above. What will an exeminer do? Will he consider "() plaintiff" as a mistake?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    You can't say "that to file suit be a phrasal verb". It sounds as if you were telling the verb to go and be phrasal.
    Is it not the subkunctive? Here is what Grammar In Use (Cambridge) says: "We can sometimes report advice, orders, requests, suggestions, etc. about things that need to be done or are desirable using a that-dause with should + bare infinitive. In formal contexts, particularly in written English, we can often leave out should but keep the infinitive. An infinitive used in this way is sometimes called the subjunctive.".

    My sentence was: "My first assumption was also that "to file suit" be a phrasal verb.". Does this sentence not comply with the rule above?
    I believe it does not and you were right. But I do not see why I was wrong. It is kind of a gap in my understanding.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    Thank you. Having read your explanation I think about the following: lets say I am passing some English test and have written this sentence in the quote above. What will an exeminer do? Will he consider "() plaintiff" as a mistake?
    If the test is not explicitly concerned with legalese I would count that as a mistake. I would use the article if in doubt.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    Is it not the subkunctive? Here is what Grammar In Use (Cambridge) says: "We can sometimes report advice, orders, requests, suggestions, etc. about things that need to be done or are desirable using a that-dause with should + bare infinitive. In formal contexts, particularly in written English, we can often leave out should but keep the infinitive. An infinitive used in this way is sometimes called the subjunctive.".

    My sentence was: "My first assumption was also that "to file suit" be a phrasal verb.". Does this sentence not comply with the rule above?
    I believe it does not and you were right. But I do not see why I was wrong. It is kind of a gap in my understanding.
    The crucial bit is "things that need to be done or are desirable". Neither does the phrase "to file suit" need to be made a phrasal verb, nor is it desirable for it to become one. It either is one or it is not. The subjunctive has a function similar to the Russian particle бы. Imagine you would say (translation is hopeless here, but I guess you get the idea): "to file suit" было бы "phrasal verb". I think that doesn't make much sense, does it?

    If you use subjunctive, then you say something to the effect "I wish that from now on "to file suit" (should) be considered as a phrasal verb". That's quite different from a simple "it is a phrasal verb".
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    The crucial bit is "things that need to be done or are desirable". Neither does the phrase "to file suit" need to be made a phrasal verb, nor is it desirable for it to become one. It either is one or it is not. The subjunctive has a function similar to the Russian particle бы. Imagine you would say (translation is hopeless here, but I guess you get the idea): "to file suit" было бы "phrasal verb". I think that doesn't make much sense, does it?

    If you use subjunctive, then you say something to the effect "I wish that from now on "to file suit" (should) be considered as a phrasal verb". That's quite different from a simple "it is a phrasal verb".
    Now I clearly see that my usage of the subjunctive in that sentence was a mistake. Though I am not sure I will not make the same mistake in the future. But I just need to practive and that's all. So another great explanation from you was digested. Thanks!

    The only thing I would like to add is about the Russian analogue of "бы". Being a native Russian speaker I do not see the analogue with the subjunctive but it is a very good example for the conditional sentences. Maybe I just did not undesrtand you or I need to think about this once more later. As I understand you are a native German speaker and are fluent in Russian too. So if you are interested we could discuss "бы" futher.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    I agree it's not the same thing, but I wanted to show how бы deviates from the indicative mood in a similar (though not identical) fashion to the English subjunctive.

    I'm far from fluent in Russian, though.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Подающий надежды оратор lexxalex's Avatar
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    Help my to correctly understand the phrase:
    "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
    Why at the end - "thank you very much."

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    Это добавляется просто для усиления эффекта, а в данном случае, как мне кажется, придает еще и оттенок самодовольства. Что-то вроде: "Уж мы-то, слава богу, совершенно нормальные (в отличие от некоторых)".

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    Quote Originally Posted by gRomoZeka View Post
    Это добавляется просто для усиления эффекта, а в данном случае, как мне кажется, придает еще и оттенок самодовольства. Что-то вроде: "Уж мы-то, слава богу, совершенно нормальные (в отличие от некоторых)".
    Ага, точно. Ещё, наверное, подтекст: "нам не требуется ваше вмешательство и нам всё равно, что вы по этому поводу думаете".
    Снобизм, в общем.

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