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    • Join Date: Sep 2004
    • Posts: 97
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    #1

    'the second time' or 'a second time'?

    They are getting divorced for a second time.
    They are getting divorced for the second time.

    I would say 'the second time' but i`ve noticed that 'a second,third fourth time etc.' is sometimes used.Could you explain to me when to use it?

    Thanks.


    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 1,335
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    #2

    Re: 'the second time' or 'a second time'?

    When it means once more, you should use a.
    Greg made a second, a third, a fourth attempt.


    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 39
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    #3

    Re: 'the second time' or 'a second time'?

    Hi njanja

    Using the determiner 'the' assumes the writer knows what the subject matter is (definitive)

    Using 'a' assumes the subject is not known to the writer, and is more vague in it's usage

    They are getting divorced for the second time is fine, as this assumes the writer does have 'inside knowledge' here

    In regards to 'a fourth, a fifth time etc', this is acceptable because the writer knows the existence of 'a time' but does not neccessarily have knowledge on the precise details

    If they do know, then you would expect this to read:

    I've told you not for the fourth, but for the fifth time to stop doing that

    In addition, consider this:

    The man heard a deafening scream

    This would assume the man did not know the source

    The man heard the deafening scream

    This would assume the man did know the source

    This is a simple rule you should bear in mind when writing

    http://www.studentproofreader.com
    Last edited by thestudentproofreader; 06-Jul-2006 at 12:00.

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