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  1. #11
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Dear Albertino,
    Although I learnt English at college for five long years and have never stopped learning it, I have never come across this strange rule.I have had recourse to a lot of grammar books but still I don't remember having seen this rule.If it were a genuine rule, it would be listed by reliable grammars and there is no denying that fact. However, I am not so bold as to detract from the genuineness of what you have indicated in your response. It is certainly true that the definite article in the English language poses terrific problems for learners whose languages do not have the above-mentioned demon. Sometimes the presence or absence of the definite article in the sentence doesn't make any difference at all:it doesn't preclude the hearer or speaker from gathering the general meaning of the sentence. Nevertheless, there is no denying the fact that the definite article gives great precision accuracy to the language and unfortunately the foreign learner often misses the nuances and subtleties expressed by the definite article. We need a native speaker to comment on your views and perspectives.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    We need a native speaker to comment on your views and perspectives.
    Why? The information Albertino provided was taken from native English speakers--not that I agree with you there, but it's the circular style of your arguments that I needed to highlight for you. You see, I'm not all that clear on what it is you want us to provide you with. The first thing a learner does when trying to gain a better understanding of something, anything, is to look at how it works and where it works; i.e., its function and distribution, and the information provided so far does exactly that, but you haven't even attempted to try it out, to see if it works (which has me just as confused as you), because if you did, you'd be able to say definitively whether or not your assumptions about speakers not knowing how to use definite "the" are based on fact or fiction. As it stands, your opinions aren't helping you gain an inch from where you were months ago when you asked about the cosmodrome.

    Balakrishnanijk, help us so that we can help you. Help us understand what it is about the distribution of the before proper nouns that has you so terribly confused.

  3. #13
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Mr.Soup,
    I absolutely agree with you. Being a native speaker, you will not have any difficulty deciding whether or not to use the definite article before a particular combination but as you know, I live in a country where even after years of university education people often stumble upon the intricacies and complexities of English grammar.
    In our country English is mostly used as a lingua franca with the result that people often do not seem to take the trouble to learn it seriously and the upshot of it is that it continues to be neglected and the grammatical rules are often cast aside. They often pattern English grammatical rules on their mother tongue and this gives rise to confusion between the rules of native Enlgish and Indian English. Another thing to be considered is that the article system which is characteristic of the English language and various other European languages is unknown to us and this often leads us to use the definite article where it is not needed and vice versa. Since I read a lot of books I have a reading acquaintance with different kinds of English and between British English or American English and the variety of English used here there is a world of difference and I have often felt it acutely.
    When it comes to using prepositions in the English language and the Indian learner is often amazed at the way they are used in the English language because they invariably do not accord with the way we use prepositions in our mother tongues. I am of the view that the pathetic condition of Indian English is often caused by people imitating "the wrong kind" of English. They read a lot of English rubbish but they often fail to associate themselves with the standard form of English.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    In our country English .... [People] often pattern English grammatical rules on their mother tongue and this gives rise to confusion between the rules of native Enlgish and Indian English.
    Well then, let's look at how native English speakers apply the definite article rule(s).

    Rule #1: add the to nouns
    Example
    A lot of research has been done on the human genome project atthe Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom.
    The definite article modifies the noun institute. The word Sanger is a noun in form but an adjective in function. It tells us "what kind of" institute. (Adjective can't take determiners.)


    Rule #2: add the to further specify or define a noun
    Example
    A lot of research has been done on the human genome project atthe Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom.
    The modifying phrase in the United States further defines the noun phrase Sangar Institute, which is why the is added. Note, it's often left out though, because its redundant in that enviornment. Cf. The JFK Airport in the USA ~ JKF Airport in the USA. In such cases, with proper names used as nouns, it doesn't matter if the is added or not, because the proper name doesn't take the by default. That is, it only takes the when it's being further defined or specified.


    Rule #3: don't add the if the noun refers to a person or group of people.
    Example
    Sanger Institute has done / We have done / They have done a lot of research on the human genome project.
    In short, when you come across two noun phrases, one with the and one without it, look at how the writer/ speaker is using the language. Is that person using the to (#1) modify a noun, (#2) further define or specify that noun, or (#3) in reference to a person or a group of people?

    There is a pattern even if it doesn't appear that way on the surface. You need to look for it.

  5. #15
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Dear Soup,
    Thank you very much for enlightening me as to the intricacies of the definite article. I wish I had thought as much.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Does that mean you no longer have any doubts?

  7. #17
    balakrishnanijk is offline Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    MR SOUP,
    It would be audacious to make that comment. Being a foreign learner, I know that it is not very easy to delve into the spirit of the definite article,which is a complete stranger to the peoples of the Indian subcontinent and else where. I am in the habit of reading whatever I come across( no matter whether it is good or bad) for the sake of amassing more and more knowledge and I have shared with you certain intricaices and complexities of English grammar which I have stumbled upon in the course of my extensive reading. Besides the definite article, there are other puzzles which have baffled me for a long time: prepositions and noun classes fall under this category. I have nearly been devastated by the way English people use the prepositions on and in. Would you like to straighten me out about the common uses of the twin monsters?

  8. #18
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    Would you like to straighten me out about the common uses of the twin monsters?
    Sure!, but you'll need to start a new thead. (Call it, "in v. on, the twin monsters." I love your turn of phrase there. )

  9. #19
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    Being a native speaker, you will not have any difficulty deciding whether or not to use the definite article before a particular combination.
    I share with you, balakrishnanijk.
    By the way your euphemisms used in your posts such as "However, I am not so bold as to detract from the genuineness of what you have indicated in your response," and " It would be audacious to make that comment" are very nice words. Good stuff for me.
    Last edited by albertino; 04-Oct-2007 at 05:03.

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