Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    vgv888888 Guest

    Default usage of indefinite vs. definite articles with nouns denoting a class

    [1, p.5] tells that "Singular Nouns denoting a class" are prepended by the definite article "THE" (Example: **"The Cobra is dangerous"**) while [1, p.7] tells that "Singular countable nouns denoting a class" are prepended by indefinite articles ("An elephant never forgets")

    I could not get what is the difference between two cases mentioned?
    Why cannot I write according the same rules "A Cobra never forgets" and "The elephant is dangerous"?

    [1]
    PRACTICAL REALISATIONS OF ENGLISH DEFINITE AND INDEFINITE ARTICLES
    search internet for the pdf with this title, I cannot post any links yet
    Last edited by vgv888888; 25-Dec-2010 at 10:19. Reason: link cut

  2. #2
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    774
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: usage of indefinite vs. definite articles with nouns denoting a class

    More clearly,

    When preceded by the, a singular countable noun can be used to represent something as a class.

    e.g. The telephone is a modern convenience.
    The horse is a domesticated animal.
    The eagle is a bird of prey.

    In the first example, the telephone refers to telephones considered as a class. Likewise, in the other examples, the horse refers to horses considered as a class, and the eagle refers to eagles considered as a class.


    A is referred to as the indefinite article because it can be used to refer to something in general terms. A and an are often used in general statements.

    e.g. A bank account can provide a good means of saving money.

    An accountant must have a good knowledge of arithmetic.

    A good pair of scissors should be used for cutting cloth.

    Source


    Note,


    • The cobra is dangerous. <class>
    • A cobra is dangerous. <general statement>
    • An elephant never forgets. <general statement>
    • The elephant never forgets. <class>



  3. #3
    vgv8 is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Ukraine
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    99
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: usage of indefinite vs. definite articles with nouns denoting a class

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    A is referred to as the indefinite article because it can be used to refer to something in general terms. A and an are often used in general statements
    How does it relate to the rule(?):

    Also, specified in cited originally [1] as articles "Omissions" case of "Abstract nouns"

  4. #4
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    774
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: usage of indefinite vs. definite articles with nouns denoting a class

    Quote Originally Posted by vgv8 View Post
    How does it relate to the rule(?):

    Also, specified in cited originally [1] as articles "Omissions" case of "Abstract nouns"
    It wouldn't relate to 'tea', a non-count noun, or 'books', a plural noun.

    Indefinite 'a/an' modifies a singular countable noun:


    • a bank account
      • 'a' goes with 'account', a singular countable noun, not 'bank', an adjective.
    • an accountant
      • 'an' goes with 'accountant', a singular countable noun.
    • a good pair of scissors
      • 'a' goes with 'pair', a singular countable noun, not 'good', an adjective.

  5. #5
    vgv8 is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Ukraine
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    99
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: usage of indefinite vs. definite articles with nouns denoting a class

    Thanks for your patience, lauralie2,
    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    • The cobra is dangerous. <class>
    • A cobra is dangerous. <general statement>
    • An elephant never forgets. <general statement>
    • The elephant never forgets. <class>
    What would

    • "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back."
      (zero article instead of "the")

    • "Curiosity killed the A cat, but satisfaction brought it back."
      ("the" --> "A")


    mean?

    What would "
    • "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"
      (zero article instead of "the")
    • "An apple a day keeps the A doctor away"
      (indefinite article instead of "the")


    mean?

  6. #6
    vgv8 is offline Banned
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Ukraine
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    99
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: usage of indefinite vs. definite articles with nouns denoting a class

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    It wouldn't relate to 'tea', a non-count noun, or 'books', a plural noun.

    Indefinite 'a/an' modifies a singular countable noun:
    Well, examples (with uncountable indefinite or plural indefinte) were (not mine but included with from cited reference) completely out of context (relating really to another rule) and so misled and ambiguated that rule.

    Does the rule:
    • DO NOT use an article when you are speaking about things in general

    apply to countable nouns (either singles or plurals, either indefinite or indefinite)?
    Last edited by vgv8; 26-Dec-2010 at 06:50.

  7. #7
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    774
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: usage of indefinite vs. definite articles with nouns denoting a class

    Quote Originally Posted by vgv8 View Post
    Thanks for your patience, lauralie2
    You're most welcome.

    The following are fixed saying:



    1. Curiosity killed the cat.
    2. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.



    Changing the article results in,


    1a. Curiosity killed cat.
    2a. An apple a day keeps doctor away.
    1a. and 2a. are ungrammatical because singular count nouns need an article.


    1b. Curiosity killed a cat.
    2b. An apple a day keeps a doctor away.

Similar Threads

  1. [General] definite and indefinite articles
    By vil in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 27-Aug-2008, 17:37
  2. Definite/indefinite Articles
    By khawar.sohail in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 26-Nov-2007, 11:18
  3. Definite/indefinite articles
    By Noego in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 25-Sep-2007, 00:29
  4. Indefinite/Definite Articles
    By kooiu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 22-Jun-2007, 20:23
  5. the definite and indefinite articles
    By njanja in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-Jun-2006, 15:21

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •