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Using English Articles (#6), by Dennis Oliver

 

Using English Articles (#6)

 

Because the English articles (a, an, the) are often very
challenging for learners of the language, the next several
Hints will provide guidelines on their usage.

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The Definite Article The (#4)

 

We have seen that the definite article the is used when
nouns are specifically identified. Nouns can be specifically
identified in several different ways. One common way
is by using an adjective clause after the noun. In many
cases, the adjective clause makes the noun specific, so the
is used before it.

Examples:


Do you know the man who's talking to Julia?

(Only one man is talking to Julia.)

*****

Do you know the man who(m) Julia is talking to?

(Julia is talking to only one man.)

*****

I'm not sure that I like the soup that Fred made.

(Fred made only one kind of soup.)

*****

The person whose name is chosen will win a prize.

(Only one person's name will be chosen,
so only one person will win a prize.)

*****

The software that you bought doesn't work.

(You bought some software and it
doesn't work.)

*****

Hawai'i is the only U.S. state that was once a kingdom.

(No other U.S. states were once kingdoms;
only Hawai'i was.)

*****

That's the hospital where he was born.

(He was born in only one hospital: that one.)

*****

That's the hospital in which he was born.

(He was born in only one hospital: that one.)

*****

What do you think of the car that Carla bought?

(Carla bought only one car.)

*****

The car that Carla bought is a piece of junk!

(Carla bought only one car.)


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Special Notes:

1.  

It's also possible to use non-specific nouns
in sentences like those above:

I know a man who works with Julia.

(More than one man works with Julia.
The sentence doesn't make it clear which
man is being referred to.)

*****

I met a man who(m) Julia works with.

(Julia works with more than one man.
The sentence doesn't make it clear which
man is being referred to.)

*****

Some of the software that you bought doesn't work.

(You bought software. Some of it works
and some of it doesn't work. The sentence
doesn't make it clear which software
doesn't work.)

*****

He lives in a state that shares borders with Arizona.

(Several states share borders with Arizona.
The sentence doesn't make it clear which
state is being referred to.)

*****

He was born in a hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

(Chicago has many hospitals. The sentence
doesn't make it clear which hospital is being
referred to.)

     
2.  

Some adjective clauses may be "abbreviated"
by deleting a relative pronoun + BE or by
deleting an object relative pronoun:

Do you know the man talking to Julia?
Do you know
the man Julia is talking to?
I'm not sure that I like
the soup Fred made.
What do you think of
the car Carla bought?
The car Carla bought is a piece of junk!
I met
a man Julia works with.
Some of the software you bought doesn't work.


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