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  1. #1
    peng huang is offline Newbie
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    can we omit the "a" in this sentence?

    I am reading a book called "the book that made your world". When I read the Forward, the first sentence struck me as something odd. It reads, "In polite society, the mere mention of the Bible often introduces a certain measure of anxiety. "

    "In polite society" seems to be the problem for me.

    I thought it should be "In a polite society", as the word "society" is countable.

    My question:

    1, is "in polite society" correct, or it means something different?
    2, is "in a polite society" better? or is it the correct form?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: can we omit the "a" in this sentence?

    It is correct without the article- it is used as a term to mean the section[s] of society where manners and politeness are taken seriously.

  3. #3
    peng huang is offline Newbie
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    Re: can we omit the "a" in this sentence?

    Thanks very much for your help.

    So, it does mean something different.

    My understanding is that you have to have something put in front of a countable noun in English to make it sound right.

    For example:

    You have to say, "I am reading a book."; or, "I am reading the book."; or "I am reading his book."; or, "I am reading an interesting book."

    or, you may use plural form, without the article, "I read books."; or, "I love books."

    But you may not say, "I am reading book."

    However, as you have pointed out, when you try to express something that is part of a whole, a different rule applies.

    For instance, we can say, "As for children's book, the price is often lower than adult book."

    It is right?

  4. #4
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    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Re: can we omit the "a" in this sentence?

    No. 'Book' is always used countably. 'Society' happens to be a word that can be used, with different meanings, countably and uncountably.
    Last edited by 5jj; 01-Nov-2011 at 11:03. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Re: can we omit the "a" in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by peng huang View Post
    I am reading a book called "the book that made your world". When I read the Forward, the first sentence struck me as something odd. It reads, "In polite society, the mere mention of the Bible often introduces a certain measure of anxiety. "

    "In polite society" seems to be the problem for me.

    I thought it should be "In a polite society", as the word "society" is countable.

    My question:

    1, is "in polite society" correct, or it means something different?
    2, is "in a polite society" better? or is it the correct form?
    (Not a teacher)
    I don't think "society" used in the sentence is countable. (Please check the dictionary, "society" can also be used as uncountable.)
    Athough "society" has an adjective in front, which is descriptive and not definite, it does not affect its generic sense. So a zero article should be used.

  6. #6
    peng huang is offline Newbie
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    Re: can we omit the "a" in this sentence?

    thanks.

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