1. stonecold
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    stonecold Member

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    A vs the

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by stonecold, Apr 6, 2009.

    In order to get to the main campus, you need to take (a,the) subway east.

    Which one is right and why?
     
  2. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    "THE" is right here. Telling someone that they need to take "a" subway east indicates there are multiple subways going east and they'd be very confused as to which subway to take. Telling someone they need to take "the" subway east indicates there is only one and therefore they won't get lost trying to find it.
     
  3. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^ I agree. You take "the" subway east.
     
  4. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Mmhmm :)

    A tends to be indicative of "one of many." The is indicative of just one.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if there is only one, or if a thing has been mentioned already, then 'the' is ok... if there's more than one, or if a thing has not yet been mentioned, then 'a' is usually the correct choice...
     
  6. Ghadius
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    Ghadius New Member

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    'The' as it describes a single object.
    Saying 'A' would be referring to multiple subways, or be referring to actually taking a subway east. (As in, picking it up and carrying it there).
     
  7. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Lol Gladius. I like your point :-D
     
  8. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    umm,...nope I don't agree with Ghadius-'the' necessarily doesn't mean a single object-it's more like a specific object/objects...like saying:


    The family was told to try bungee jumping

    this will mean that a specific family, like the Hiltons, lets say were told to try Bungee jumping.


    A is more general..like

    A family was told to try bungee jumping.
    In order to get to the Upper Town, you need to take a subway east.



    Therefore, like mammamaia said- if there is only one subway that can be taken east, use 'the'...if there are more than one subways....than use 'a'..

    Note:-Information taken from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/esl/eslart.html
     
  9. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    lol Neha, you just made my eyes bleed reading all that. very informative though so i didn't mind :)

    the thing about 'a'/'the' is our reliance on them, we tend to over use them, especially 'the'

    on a word frequency counter site i sometimes post my word just to see what words i overuse and have learnt to widdle down them if possible.

    i agree with the singular 'the' multiple 'a'

    still there are exceptions to every rule i've found
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    neha...
    you may not know this, but when posting material from another source you MUST cite the source...

    these excerpts came from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/esl/eslart.html so you must post the link, or it looks like you're posting your own advice and that's at least unethical and possibly illegal...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  11. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    ok, sorry I didn't know that, I thought quoting was enough...I've edited the post.
     
  12. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I don't really think of singular/specific as being too different from one another although there are cases in which they are. When you say "the family" it is still a singular family. "The family" can only refer to ONE family, not multiple, whereas "A family" can refer to multiple families. That's just how I see it.

    ~Lynn
     
  13. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    Hmm...but it can also be The families..ohk, I dunno how to explain myself.
     

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