1. Flairagon
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    Flairagon New Member

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    Do I use an indefinite article with terrain?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Flairagon, Jan 15, 2008.

    The specific word I want to use is tundra, although I guess this can apply to other types of terrain too. Do I say "John stood in vast tundra" or "in a vast tundra?

    Incidentally, is calling tundra "vast" or "frozen" too redundant?
     
  2. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I believe it would be 'a vast tundra'. Secondly, as far as I know tundras are not frozen at all times of the year, even though they are mostly frozen, and using vast wouldn't be very redundant. You could use 'vast', in my opinion, as the better of the two.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You should probably use the indefinite article in this case. Omitting it is not incorrect, but emphasizes the type of terrain over an instance of that terrain.

    As for the adjectives, either of those would be quite acceptable, depending on what aspect of the tundra you wish to emphasize: it's frigid nature or that it appears to go on forever in all directions. But either of those could be made stronger with an additional sentence that clearly drives home the feature you wish to emphasize.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why would you think types of terrain would not take an indefinite article?... tundra is no different from plain, desert, river, mesa, mountain and such in this regard... and all have to be accompanied by an article... whether definite [the], or indefinite [a/an] only depends on if it's the only one and/or has been mentioned previously, or if it's a non-specific one and/or not previously mentioned...

    some location nouns that don't take any article [in town] vs those that do [in the city] are anomalies and a matter of style... sometimes depending on where you are, since in the us we are 'in the hospital' and in the uk, 'in hospital'...

    hope this helps a bit... love and hugs, maia
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I believe tundra can take the same shade of meaning as words like swampland, desert (you can find yourself in desert, or in a desert), and forest. Swampland, grassland, and space would nearly always be used generically, without an article, but forest and desert can be used either way. Meadow would probably always be used with an article, as would street.
     

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