A retired English teacher sent in this question:
Please look at a) and b):
a) The American government spends billions of dollars a year defending the rights of people who cannot defend themselves because they are weak.
b) For your examples of injustice, you mention only birth defects. Horrible as they are, they make up only a small percentage of human suffering. What about the misery that is the direct result of human action or inaction?
As you see, in a), PEOPLE is followed by a restrictive relative clause and in b) MISERY is followed by a restrictive relative clause, too. But why isn't there a "the" in front of PEOPLE but there is a "the" in front of MISERY? I think a restrictive relative clause always makes the noun which is in front of it identified. So, a "the" is needed.
As a matter of observable fact, the proposed generalization is wrong. The proverb "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" is fine without an initial the.
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