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  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Question Indefinite article in appositional structures

    From Robin MacPherson's "Advanced written English":

    This tendency to use a/an in appositional structures is found even with uncountable nouns, i.e. ones which cannot normally go with the indefinite article:
    Mother Teresa showed great compassion, a compassion that earned her a reputation for saintliness.
    --

    My question is, is it a rule? Should indeed I always use the indefinite article before an uncountable noun in appositional structures like the one above? Truly I have never come across this rule in any other source, hence my question.

    Thanks,
    Nyggus

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Indefinite article in appositional structures

    No, it is a tendency; it would not be incorrect to omit the article there or to use the definite article.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Indefinite article in appositional structures

    Dear Nyggus

    The fact that the phrase you mention is used in apposition to the noun 'compassion' is irrelevant. Your sentence does not examplify a rule it exemplifies a grammatical sentence.

    Mother Teresa showed great compassion,

    a) compassion that earned her a reputation for saintliness.

    b) a compassion that earned her a reputation for saintliness.

    c) the compassion that earned her a reputation for saintliness.

    As has been mentioned the above are all grammatical; that is tos say, a native speaker might use any one of these forms. He/she would choose on te basis of the nature of the message he/she wished to communicate.

    In order to understand the difference nuances, consider the following much simpler example.

    a) It's good wine.

    b) It's a good wine.

    c) It's the good wine.

    These three all convey different information and in this case it's much easier to see the distinction which is being made. If you don't see it, let me know and I'll explain.

    Fred O'Hanlon. .

  4. #4
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Indefinite article in appositional structures

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    No, it is a tendency; it would not be incorrect to omit the article there or to use the definite article.
    The book says the definite article is incorrect in such instances. As I understand, you don't agree with this statement?

    By the way, this seems to be a next (to many those that have been pointed out in these forums here) issue in which linguists have various (even opposite) opinions. This doesn't help us, learners.

    Nyggus

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