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  1. #11
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    In all dictionaries, the article used before "real McCoy" is "the". Is it correct to use "a" in the sentence below?
    "How to verify whether my Rolex Watch is a real McCoy or a bogus product?"
    "The" is correct.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    "The" is correct.
    Yes, but more to the point, 'a' is not correct.

    @OP: This is a fixed idiom. You must use "the".

  3. #13
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes, but more to the point, 'a' is not correct.

    @OP: This is a fixed idiom. You must use "the".
    I wouldn't go that far. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22a+real+mccoy%22&oq=%22a+real+mccoy%22& aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.20634j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es pv=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8

  4. #14
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    Until I saw Mike's link I had never seen "a real McCoy".

  5. #15
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    While the dictionaries read "the public", it is correct to say "a public".
    While the dictionaries read "the real McCoy", it is incorrect to say "a real McCoy".
    Why?

  6. #16
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    While the dictionaries read "the public", it is correct to say "a public".
    While the dictionaries read "the real McCoy", it is incorrect to say "a real McCoy".
    Why?
    Dictionaries define words; good dictionaries give examples of the words in sentences to illustrate the meanings. Dictionaries, even the massive OED cannot define every way in which the word can, or has been used, and they certainly don't explain all the acceptable usages of articles with nouns. The definite article is commonly used with the noun 'public' but, as we have seen, the indefinite article is possible, particularly when an adjective is present. It is not incorrect to say 'a real McCoy', but contexts in which that is natural are rare. The expression most of us know and use has the definite article.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  7. #17
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    Slightly off-topic

    From time to time we remind members that there is no 'Academy' to decide what is correct or aceptable in English.

    Modern dictionaries and grammars record what native speakers actually say and write, not what they should say and write. Some lexicographers and grammarians give advice, based on their findings, as to what is generally accepted as standard usage, but such advice is not binding on anybody. Writers of style guides and of publishers' 'rules', may prescribe certain usages and proscribe others but, once again, the general public is not obliged to pay heed to them.

    People who respond in forums such as this often give very useful advice but, as you see, we sometimes don't agree. That does not necessarily mean that one of is wrong. It usually means that more than one suggestion can be acceptable to many native speakers. When it comes to how the indefinite and definte article are used, you may find that in a group of half a dozen native-speaking teachers and grammarians, no two will agree exactly on the 'best' article in every place in some texts.

    Learners who speak languages for which there is an 'Academy' which passes judgement on any and every question about language usage may find this surprising, but you'll have to accept it. There is often no point in worrying about why this is so.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  8. #18
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Default Re: The article before "public", definite or indefinite?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    From time to time we remind members that ...
    I suggest that this reminder be included in the Forum Policies and Guidelines.

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