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  1. #1
    imsok00l is offline Newbie
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    Default Articles with ordinal numbers...

    Grammar books tell us one must always use the definite article with ordinal numbers.

    But all too often I encounter ordinal numerals used with an indefinite or a zero article.

    I've searched all over the web for some kind of grammar reference but to no avail.

    Could someone give an outline of rules for the use of zero article and the indefinite aricle with ordinal numerals?

  2. #2
    crclee is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Articles with ordinal numbers...

    Quote Originally Posted by imsok00l View Post
    Grammar books tell us one must always use the definite article with ordinal numbers.

    But all too often I encounter ordinal numerals used with an indefinite or a zero article.

    I've searched all over the web for some kind of grammar reference but to no avail.

    Could someone give an outline of rules for the use of zero article and the indefinite aricle with ordinal numerals?
    Hi

    If you post some examples of ordinals without a definite article it will be easier for us to help, but here are some examples for you. (Note that these are all examples of something that looks like an ordinal but isn't.)

    1. He got a first from his university.
    (A "first" means "a first-class degree" and is not an ordinal.)

    2. This is a first-class restaurant.
    (In this case "first-class" is a compound adjective, not an ordinal.)

    3. We tried to arrive first but actually came second.
    (In this case, "first" and "second" are adverbs not ordinals.)

    4. John is our first, and Mary is our second.
    (In this case, "first" and "second" are adjectives that modify the implied noun "child" not ordinals.)

    5. She ate a third of the cake.
    (In this case "a third" refers to a part of something (33.3%) and it's a noun not an ordinal.)

    Like I said, if you can post some other examples I'm sure that I or somebody could help you understand.

  3. #3
    imsok00l is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Articles with ordinal numbers...

    Thanks for shedding some light on this, crclee! I guess I just have to keep in mind that first,second,etc can be different parts of speech.

    What about these examples?
    I teach 8th grade.
    It's July fourth.
    I'll do it first thing in the morning.

    Also, off-topic: why do we say "It would be best to..." and not "It would be THE best to..."?



  4. #4
    crclee is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Articles with ordinal numbers...

    Quote Originally Posted by imsok00l View Post
    Thanks for shedding some light on this, crclee! I guess I just have to keep in mind that first,second,etc can be different parts of speech.

    What about these examples?
    I teach 8th grade.
    It's July fourth.
    I'll do it first thing in the morning.

    Also, off-topic: why do we say "It would be best to..." and not "It would be THE best to..."?
    Hi

    I teach 8th grade. ("8th" functions as an adjective)
    It's July fourth. (The definite article is understood so we imagine "It's July (the) fourth)
    I'll do it first thing in the morning. ("first thing in the morning" is an adverb phrase similar in meaning to "early tomorrow")

    As for your interesting question about "best", in the example you gave, "best" is a superlative adverb modifying "be" so an article would be incorrect because adverbs cannot take articles.

    In a similar vein, these examples of superlative usage without "the" would also be correct:

    1. This is our biggest success yet.
    2. I think I like the red one most.
    3. Of all the diseases affecting society, cancer is most serious.
    (In examples 2 and, especially 3, many people would include "the" but it is not strictly necessary.)

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Articles with ordinal numbers...

    In BrE it is usual to say "July the fourth" or "the fourth of July".

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