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  1. #1
    Maniak is offline Newbie
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    Where using "a" and where "the"?

    I dont understand where I can/may using "a" and where "the" and where nothing or everiting else.

    For example:

    ("Silent hill" like movie or game)
    "I bought Silent hill." or "I bought a Silent hill." or "I bought the Silent hill."

    "I have game." or "I have the game" or "I have a game"

    What is correct and what is not?
    Last edited by Maniak; 22-Nov-2009 at 18:42.

  2. #2
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Re: Where using "a" and where "the"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maniak View Post
    I dont understand where I can/may using "a" and where "the" and where nothing or everiting else.

    For example:

    ("Silent hill" like movie or game)
    "I bought Silent Hill." -- This is okay if the person you're talking to knows that it's a game. I'd be confused by this.

    or "I bought a Silent Hill." -- No, but "a copy of Silent Hill" would be okay.

    or "I bought the Silent Hill." -- No, but "the Silent Hill game" would be fine and common (especially when you had to explain that it's a game to people like me).

    "I have game." -- no, never. This requires an article.

    or "I have the game" -- Could be okay in the right context. Have you seen the movie "Silent Hill"? No, but I have the game."

    or "I have a game" -- Sounds incomplete. Many of us have a game or two (or many, many more). I have a new game I want to go home and play. I have a game that makes you think really hard. I have a game based on the movie "Silent Hill."

    What is correct and what is not?
    Articles are really hard and sometimes you can use one, the other, or none in the same sentence. As a writer and native speaker, I sometimes struggle with which article to use, so don't feel bad that this topic is not easy for you.

    (Edit: There is one specific use of "got game" but it's not related to actually having a game to play. It's more like "He has the ability and the attitude to play really well.")
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Re: Where using "a" and where "the"?

    It depends on how much you expect the listener already knows.

    If he knows about what you bought, you use "the" game.

    If he doesn't know the game himself, you use "a" game. You can also add "called Silent Hill."

  4. #4
    ilovepsycho's Avatar
    ilovepsycho is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Where using "a" and where "the"?

    ... As a writer and native speaker, I sometimes struggle with which article to use, ...
    Is your remark above true? The fact that even you, native speaker, at times struggle with which article to use is very interesting to me, since I have never heard that. Do other native speakers also do so? (the sentence "Do other native speakers also do so?" is right grammatically? It seems slightly awkward even to me.)

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Re: Where using "a" and where "the"?

    I can't speak for most native speakers. I never struggle with things like the examples here, and we don't spend much time thinking about them in speech. However, I write for a living and therefore, I spend a lot of time with my written words despite how casual I am in my speech.

    Recently I wrote something like this: One of the keys to the success of the project was the extensive communication with the stakeholders.

    And it became something like this: One of the keys to the project's success was extensive communication with stakeholders.

    Or maybe it didn't -- maybe one of the thes was left in. But the "the" before "communications" referred to the communication specific to this project. And with the modifier, the "the" seemed to work.

    Meanwhile, the "the" before "stakeholders" clearly limited it to the stakeholders in this project. I think I left that one out because why bother with the restrictive "the" when clearly the only stakeholders I would write about were the ones involved in the project?

    It changed again before it was done. (Writing has many permutations before it's actually finished - and THEN the editor gets it and it changes again!)

    It may have ended up as "Extensive stakeholder communication was essential for the success of the project." -- No articles at all.

    I don't offer these as particularly great examples of my writing -- they are not -- but to show you that sometimes the article is necessary and sometimes it's not, and sometimes no one else but the writer (and editor) will care, and sometimes it shifts the meaning a tiny bit, and sometimes all it does is add words.

    So don't worry if you struggle with these. When you speak, it will come naturally -- or not -- but no one will stop you and say "Wait. Did you mean...?" And when you write, realize you are not alone in wondering which is the best choice.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Re: Where using "a" and where "the"?

    I think Barb's right, they are becoming more difficult to use sensibly. Language is full of cyclical redundancy, instances in which words become less and less invested with meaning until they are dropped altogether or perform little function (e.g. Middle English ne as a negation like in French).

    Articles in European languages are sliding in that direction, particularly French and English.

    Compare standard English:
    The President of the United States arrived today in Bombay.

    And Indian English:
    President of United States arrived today in Bombay.

    As there is only one (well known) country named the United States, and it has only one president, the articles are quite unnecessary, and Indian English may be more logical there. But we have begun to use the articles for form, out of convention, without much need.

    It's just something you have to get used to as a learner.

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