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Some time ago in chat, the question of merging and into was raised, and I want to get further input into this.

A preponderance of the following reasons, all of which I make no judgement on, is enough to keep them separate:

  • a reasonable user might find one tag interesting but not the other
  • there are sufficient open questions or the potential for such to keep the distinction
  • merging would significantly impair searching (NB: consider the fact that all of the articles are stop words in search)

This isn't a particularly urgent issue, but any discussion would be welcome. If you have sufficient reputation, you can vote on the tag synonyms yourself.

  • I have above 5000 rep, but I don't see how to vote for or make tag synonym suggestions at that URL. – Mitch Aug 15 '11 at 12:58
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    Tag [articles] may be thought of as magazine articles or something... – GEdgar Aug 15 '11 at 14:55
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Apart somebody that would confuse as referring to magazine articles, I don't see any reason not to use instead of and .

I am not sure there is the need of having a distinction between , and . Are there users who are able to answer questions tagged , but not ? Are there experts in indefinite articles, and experts in definite article?

I think that the number of questions using both the tags is a useful measure to understand if both the tags should be kept, or they should made synonym of (and merged with) . If in most of the cases one of the tag is used together the other one, that is a sign that the tags should be synonym of a common tag.

It doesn't seem to have sense to have three tags for articles: , , and .
If it is necessary to avoid confusion, the tag could be renamed .

  • grammar-articles might make sure to cover all the bases so that people don't get confused. articles wouldn't confuse me, but I'm a native speaker. – simchona Aug 19 '11 at 2:48
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Any given question concerning "the article" is most likely either or , but if it happens to concern both, it's no great hardship to apply both tags.

It seems to me we now get more "basic" questions from non-native speakers asking whether they should either or neither article in some given construction. Oftentimes I think such questions are trivial, and should be closed as General Reference - but they'll still get asked anyway. And there's no denying that sometimes there are very interesting aspects to commonplace idiomatic usage that native speakers don't always think about because we "know" what's right so we don't even realise there's anything more to it than that.

Several months ago I voted to merge these two tags, but I've changed my mind and reversed that vote. I now think the tags themselves are obviously useful and much-used, and there's no point in losing a distinction we have now that it would be tiresome to regain later if we threw it away.

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