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  1. #1
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    Default The coldest start to (a) June on record

    From http://www.adelaidenow.com.au:
    Anyone shivering in Adelaide this morning had good reason to do so - it was the coldest start to June on record.
    [...] "I think it's the coldest start to a June that we've ever had at Kent Town," Mr Rowlands said.
    What is the difference in meaning?

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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    I see no difference.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I see no difference.
    But then you don't normally use 'a' with months?

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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    But then you don't normally use 'a' with months?
    Not normally, but we can, sometimes:

    We had a very disappointing May last year.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Not normally, but we can, sometimes:

    We had a very disappointing May last year.
    Here, however, the type of May is specified - it's 'very disappointing', hence 'a'. I feel the weather example is not quite the same.
    Last edited by nyota; 01-Jun-2011 at 09:31. Reason: typo

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    How abou these, from The Corpus of Contemporary American English:


    The blizzard rare for a December in New York complicates the trips of Christmas travellers...

    But a tall, dark police officer is about to give her a December to remember...


    ?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    How abou these, from The Corpus of Contemporary American English:

    (1) The blizzard rare for a December in New York complicates the trips of Christmas travellers...

    (2) But a tall, dark police officer is about to give her a December to remember...


    ?
    That's more like it! So from these contexts I gather, 'a' emphasises the 'kind', too, even without an additional phrase.

    Could I get rid of 'a' in your examples? Skipping it in (2) doesn't seem like an option to me?
    Last edited by nyota; 01-Jun-2011 at 10:01. Reason: 'even without...'

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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    That's more like it! So from these contexts I gather, 'a' emphasises the 'kind', too, even without an additional phrase.

    Could I get rid of 'a' in your examples? Skipping it in (2) doesn't seem like an option to me?
    You are right. It's not essential in the first, but it appears to be in the second.

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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    From http://www.adelaidenow.com.au:


    What is the difference in meaning?

    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) What a fascinating question. I had never thought about the matter

    before.

    (2) Is it just a coincidence that the headline does NOT use "a," but

    in the article a gentleman is quoted as using "a"?

    (3) I found a similar situation while googling. An Irish newspaper

    had this headline:

    WE'VE ENDURED COLDEST START TO WINTER SINCE RECORDS BEGAN

    Then the story began: It has been the coldest start to a winter since
    records began more than 130 years ago.

    A coincidence? I think not.

    (4) Before we continue, it might be helpful to remember that the

    word "a" = "one."

    (5) So maybe (maybe!!!) we can say that your sentence with "a" =

    The coldest start to one particular June on record.

    (6) What I am trying to say in my awkward manner is this:

    Quite possibly the "correct" English is the use of the indefinite

    article, but over the years speakers (and writers) have just dropped the

    article in order to speak faster (save space in writing). So today our

    ears think that "coldest start to June" is correct even though the

    "correct" way should be "coldest start to a June."

    (7) Take the excellent examples from Teacher Fivejedjon:

    blizzzard rare for a December. (Yes, no problem if you omit "December,"
    but quite possibly the "correct" sentence demands that "a.")

    to give her a December to remember. (Yes, that "a" cannot be omitted, because he is giving her something specific: a December to remember, a gift of a lifetime, a kiss to end all kisses, etc.)

    (8) The bottom line: When one thinks about it, it appears that

    "good" grammar requires the indefinite article. But in the real world,

    native speakers and space-conscious journalists have simply decided

    to drop little "unimportant" words. As for me, if I ever have occasion to

    write such a sentence (which I won't), I shall use "a" -- thanks to what

    I learned from your thread.

    P.S. Where I live, it seems that this may be the coldest start

    to a spring on record.


    Respectfully yours,


    James

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The coldest start to (a) June on record

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post

    [...]

    (2) Is it just a coincidence that the headline does NOT use "a," but

    in the article a gentleman is quoted as using "a"?

    (3) I found a similar situation while googling. An Irish newspaper

    had this headline:

    WE'VE ENDURED COLDEST START TO WINTER SINCE RECORDS BEGAN

    Then the story began: It has been the coldest start to a winter since
    records began more than 130 years ago.

    A coincidence? I think not. Yes, it seems articles are often omitted in headlines. However, the example I quoted wasn't a headline. What's more, the sentences are almost the same and yet the usage of 'a' differs. It's as if within a couple of lines, June was treated more generally and then as one particular kind

    (4) Before we continue, it might be helpful to remember that the

    word "a" = "one."

    (5) So maybe (maybe!!!) we can say that your sentence with "a" =

    The coldest start to one particular June on record. I guess that's what it comes down to, one/a type of June, one particular June.

    [...]

    (8) The bottom line: When one thinks about it, it appears that

    "good" grammar requires the indefinite article. But in the real world,

    native speakers and space-conscious journalists have simply decided

    to drop little "unimportant" words. But surely you wouldn't want to use 'a' in sentences like: The theatre opened in May or We got married in December? As for me, if I ever have occasion to

    write such a sentence (which I won't), I shall use "a" -- thanks to what

    I learned from your thread.

    P.S. Where I live, it seems that this may be the coldest start

    to a spring on record. Where's that global warming? ;)
    Regardless of what was correct in the past, clearly, these days there are some unwritten (?) rules as to where you can insert an indefinite article with 'months' and where it doesn't really sound right, or perhaps where it doesn't sound quite right NOT to have an article (as in 5jj's example (2) in post #6).

    It reminds me of the use of an indefinite article before a surname (where 'normally' you wouldn't have it), of course with a change of meaning e.g. - A Mr. Smith - would be a man called Smith, who is a stranger to the speaker, or -He was an Einstein of his time - which tells us the person in question had Einstein's characteristics.

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