Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1
    Verona_82 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    991
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Hello,

    I'm revising fixed expessions with definite articles and having problems with some of them.
    We go to the shops, to the bank and to the post office, but do we go to the pub?? I was sure about that until I saw 'going to a pub' in an English coursebook.

    Also, do we always read the newspaper? All the examples I've come across so far contained 'the'. This is illogical. How can I know what kind of newspaper a person is/was reading?

    -What did you do last night? Nothing much. Just stayed in and read the newspaper. What about you?
    - I went for a walk in the park. I love walking in the park when I have free time.

    Do we always say "walk/stroll in the park" although there may be half a dozen parks in town and it's impossible to figure out which one is being referred to?

    Articles are really tricky ; sometimes they don't seem to follow any logic.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    14,097
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    .. .but do we go to the pub?
    Yes. Just like '. . .to the bank', we say '.. .to the pub' unless it's important to stipulate exactly which bank or pub we went to.

    Also, do we always read the newspaper?
    Do we always say "walk/stroll in the park"?
    Usually, yes. If it mattered to you, you could always ask 'Which newspaper/park?'

    Rover

  3. #3
    Verona_82 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    991
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Thank you. The phrase 'going to a pub' was from a coursebook (it was on the list of the most popular leisure activities of the British). Does it sound wrong to you?

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    Thank you. The phrase 'going to a pub' was from a coursebook (it was on the list of the most popular leisure activities of the British). Does it sound wrong to you?
    Not necessarily, though the would probably be a more natural choice.

    1. I am going to the pub means either I am going out for a drink or I am going to my local pub.
    2. I am going to a pub
    means I am going to a building that happens to be a pub (rather than, for example, a restaurant or a cinema). It is quite possible that I have arranged to meet someone at a pub I don't know.

    Very often, going to the pub/cinema/theatre/opera/ballet/etc has more to do with how, rather than where, we are spending our time.
    Last edited by 5jj; 04-Feb-2011 at 12:21. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,914
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    Hello,

    I'm revising fixed expessions with definite articles and having problems with some of them.
    We go to the shops, to the bank and to the post office, but do we go to the pub?? I was sure about that until I saw 'going to a pub' in an English coursebook.

    Also, do we always read the newspaper? All the examples I've come across so far contained 'the'. This is illogical. How can I know what kind of newspaper a person is/was reading?

    -What did you do last night? Nothing much. Just stayed in and read the newspaper. What about you?
    - I went for a walk in the park. I love walking in the park when I have free time.

    Do we always say "walk/stroll in the park" although there may be half a dozen parks in town and it's impossible to figure out which one is being referred to?

    Articles are really tricky ; sometimes they don't seem to follow any logic.

    Thank you in advance.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Verona,


    Thank you so much for your question. After researching the answer,

    I now understand it a little (a little!!!) better. (Of course, I shall give

    credit to my "teachers" at the end.)

    (1) One source agrees with you: "Teachers reported that article usage

    was their number one teaching problem." This source also reminded us

    that "the" comes from the word for "that" (which signals distance); "a"

    comes from the word for "one." (My comment: maybe if we keep

    that in mind, it might help us to better understand article usage.)

    (2) The most insightful source I found reminded us that "the" is not

    always so definite. This source says that sometimes there is an

    indefinite definite article (or "weak" definite article).

    Look at these two sentences:

    (a) I'll read the newspaper when I get home.

    (b) I'll read the book when I get home.

    What is the difference in the use of "the"? The authors point out that

    in (a) "the" is "weak." That is, "the particular identity of the ...newspaper...is not thought to be especially important."

    But in (b), the speaker is definitely referring to a particular book.

    The scholars say something very interesting:

    (In my words) Maybe the "weak" definites are in fact INdefinites

    in disguise!!! They say that "John read the newspaper" is equivalent

    to "John read a newspaper." (But they also warn: do NOT think that

    "weak" definites and ordinary indefinites are the same.)

    Here is another one of their wonderful sentences:

    (I have changed it a bit) Mary heard about the riot on the radio, and


    Bob heard about the riot on the radio. They explain that "the riot" is

    a case of a regular definite (there is a particular riot), but "the radio"

    is a "weak" indefinite. Why? Maybe Mary heard the riot on the radio

    at home, and Bob heard about the riot on the radio at school. The

    authors point out we would get the same interpretation if we replaced

    "the radio" with "a radio."

    (3) I also found more insight from some authors who talked about

    what they called "functional uniqueness." They explained that sometimes

    we are less interested in the identity of something than in the unique

    role that it plays within "a certain socio-cultural frame."

    They say that "I read it the newspaper" evokes the frame of the media.

    In other words, the institution of the media.

    They say that "We can take the bus" evokes the frame of public transport.

    We use "the" in those two sentences because we are thinking of a

    unique "kind."

    (4) Finally, I can assure you that "a newspaper" is often heard.

    Maybe a teacher might say to her students: I want everyone to bring

    a (that is, "one") newspaper to class tomorrow. And I think that

    many younger people say: I never read a newspaper. I get all my

    news from the Internet or on my mobile device.

    Therefore, I can well imagine the following dialogue:




    A teenager talking on the (!!!) phone: What are you doing, Grandpa?

    Grandfather: Oh, I am reading a newspaper.

    Teenager: What is a newspaper, Grandpa?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Sources:

    1. Google "Seemingly Indefinite Definites." Written by Mr. Greg Carlson and Ms. Rachel Shirley Sussman.

    2. Google "Cognitive English Grammar read the newspaper." Written by Mr. Gunter Radden.

    3. The Grammar Book (1983 edition) by Mesdames Celcia-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman, pages 171-172.

    4. Google "Linguist List 13. 1363." A discussion with many viewpoints.

    5. Google "Apparently arbitrary application of article rules"; then when page of results appears, click on "more" in the menu on the left; and then click on "discussions."

    If you find any good articles on this subject, please let us know.

    THANK YOU
    Last edited by TheParser; 01-Feb-2011 at 23:43.

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,914
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Verona,


    Yesterday I was reading The New Yorker magazine of February 7, 2011, when I found

    something that helped me to better understand the articles. It was in a story about

    the life of a British author. Here are the few words from his diary that I wish to share:



    I could scarcely ever conclude or even start a journey, but must always be impulsively leaping off THE bus as it went, or leaving THE train at some intermediate station, or getting on A train that was going heavens knows where, [in order] to ... get a closer look ....


    It is ONLY my opinion that he used those two definite articles because they refer to a

    specific bus or train that he had remembered, and that he used the indefinite article

    because it referred to ONE of many trains that he had boarded without knowing its

    destination.

    I assume that this author used "correct" English, for the story says that he was

    considered by many people as "the best editor in London."



    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    I could scarcely ever conclude or even start a journey, but must always be impulsively leaping off THE bus as it went, or leaving THE train at some intermediate station, or getting on A train that was going heavens knows where, [in order] to ... get a closer look ....

    It is ONLY my opinion that he used those two definite articles because they refer to a specific bus or train that he had remembered, and that he used the indefinite article because it referred to ONE of many trains that he had boarded without knowing its destination.

    I assume that this author used "correct" English...
    It doesn't have to be a specific bus or train, at least not in BrE. This is an example of what you might call a 'weak' or 'indefinite' definite article. We commonly speak of the bus, train etc. The indefinite article is used for a different purpose in the third phrase.

    I speak of the tram because I live in a city with trams. People from tramless cities who visit me tend to speak of a tram when they first arrive, then change to the tram, reverting to a tram when they get home.

    Most people do not travel by air very often; for them, the plane would be a specific one; someone who travelled regularly by plane might well be using a 'weak' indefinite article when he says, "I had breakfast on the plane this morning".

  8. #8
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    It doesn't have to be a specific bus or train, at least not in BrE. This is an example of what you might call a 'weak' or 'indefinite' definite article. We commonly speak of the bus, train etc. The indefinite article is used for a different purpose in the third phrase.
    What is the different purpose? I don't understand.

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    What is the different purpose? I don't understand.
    I expressed myself badly. What I meant was that the indefinite article was used in a different way from the definite article - differently from we the way we normally understand the difference.

    In the first two expressions we have a 'weak' or 'indefinite' definite article; in the third we have an indefinite article that is used more 'definitely'. By this I mean that 'getting on a train that was going heavens knows where' is more restricted than just 'getting on a train'. The latter can mean 'any train', but the former does not include trains going to known destination.

    So, we are dealing with a different difference.

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: the pub, the newspaper, the park...

    Warning: This post is not helpful for most students.

    These are my attempts at 1. an indefinite indefinite article, 2. an indefinite definite article, 3 a definite definite article and 4. a definite indefinite article.

    My glosses are deliberately short, but give the rough idea. Do you think Iíve got it right?

    1. As I was getting on a bus this morningÖ It is possible that I donít normally travel by bus.

    2. As I was getting on the bus this morningÖ It is probable that I often travel by bus.

    3. As I was getting on the bus to Farnham this morningÖ A specific bus.

    4. As I was getting on a bus to Farnham this morningÖ This is more specific than #2, but not as specific as #3.


    I know this is getting rather away from Verona's original question, but I think that was answered in earlier posts.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. down the pub, market
    By ostap77 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-Oct-2010, 15:43
  2. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 13-May-2010, 06:45
  3. In the Park or At the Park
    By daddyjohn in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 31-Aug-2008, 11:50
  4. pub
    By peter123 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-Dec-2007, 09:19
  5. Industry Park vs Industrial Park
    By MariaF in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 11-Sep-2007, 14:24

Posting Permissions

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