Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 30
  1. #11
    oichi Guest
    Thanks tdol.

    These would (hopefully) be my last questions on this subject.

    1. How about the second example, "That's the wrong person" or "That's a wrong person"?

    2. Do you always use the definite article "the" before the adjective "wrong"?
    If there are cases in which you don't use the definite article before "wrong," could you give me an example?

    3. How about in a situation like this?
    A teach is about to ask a question to a student.
    Does the teacher say "If you give me the wrong answer, you have to take a test tomorrow" or "If you give me a wrong answer, you have to take a test tomorrow"?
    In this case, the speaker is not talking about a specific answer.
    Or, in this case too, do you consider any wrong answers as specific and use the definite article "the"?

    Thanks.

  2. #12
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,961
    Post Thanks / Like
    1- Generally, I'd say 'the wrong person' because there's a specific reason why they are wrong. However, it might be possibleto thinkof a way of using the indefinite article- I can't come up with anything, but might after I've had my coffee.

    2- He took a wrong turning and got lost opn the way to my house. (Many wrong turnings)

    3- I think you could use either here.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,970
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by oichi
    OK, this number is mine and I am interested in only this one number.
    But doesn't the caller on the other side also say "Oh, I seem to have dialed the wrong number"?
    If he does, why does HE say so, considering it is not HIS number and there are so many other wrong numbers he can dial?
    Hello, :D

    I'm going say what everyone else has said but I'm going to use different words. :wink:

    Sam: Hello?
    Max: Hello. I'd like to order a pizza.
    Sam: Pizza? Sorry. The number you (have) dialed is wrong.

    Another way of saying "The number you (have) dialed is wrong" is "You have dailed the wrong number".

    "The number" refers to a specific number, as tdol said, the number you are calling. There is only one number registered with the location you are calling and that number is different (i.e. chigau) from the one you want to call.

    the number is wrong ~ the wrong number


    a nice haircut
    Pat: That's a nice haircut!
    Sam: Thanks. :D

    There are many kinds of haircuts, and of those many, Sam has one--not "the one" as Mike has explained, but just one of the many.

    Another example
    Sam: Please lend me a pencil.
    Max: What kind of pencil? I have several kinds.
    Sam: A nice one. (Meaning, any one pencil in your case)

    or

    Sam: (pointing) The nice one there. (pointing = specific)

    or

    Sam: The green one. ('green' = specific)


    Please consider this situation.
    A teacher asks students to buy a specific textbook and bring it to the next class. In the next class, one student brings a book which is not the one the teacher intended. Here, does the teacher say "you got THE wrong book" or "you got A wrong book"? Unlike "You dialed the wrong number," that wrong book is not the teacher's.
    Teacher: Did you bring your workbooks?
    Student: Yes. Here it is.
    Teacher: That's the wrong workbook.

    the workbook (I asked you to buy) is wrong ~ the wrong workbook.

    "I asked you to buy" modifies "workbook" and makes "workbook" specific and so "The" is added.


    How about a situation like this?
    Two men are looking for a specific woman they know in the street.
    One man says "Isn't that her?" pointing at a woman walking in front of them. The other man understands that it is not her. Here, does the other man say "That's the wrong person" or "That's a wrong person"?
    Pat: There's Miki!
    Sam: No. That's not her.
    Pat: Yes, it is!
    Sam: That's the wrong person.

    the person (we are looking for) is wrong ~ the wrong person

    "we are looking for" makes "person" specific, and so "The" is added.

    Yoroshiku

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,970
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by oichi
    OK, this number is mine and I am interested in only this one number.
    But doesn't the caller on the other side also say "Oh, I seem to have dialed the wrong number"?
    If he does, why does HE say so, considering it is not HIS number and there are so many other wrong numbers he can dial?
    Hello, :D

    I'm going say what everyone else has said but I'm going to use different words. :wink:

    Sam: Hello?
    Max: Hello. I'd like to order a pizza.
    Sam: Pizza? Sorry. The number you (have) dialed is wrong.

    Another way of saying "The number you (have) dialed is wrong" is "You have dailed the wrong number".

    "The number" refers to a specific number, as tdol said, the number you are calling. There is only one number registered with the location you are calling and that number is different (i.e. chigau) from the one you want to call.

    the number is wrong ~ the wrong number


    a nice haircut
    Pat: That's a nice haircut!
    Sam: Thanks. :D

    There are many kinds of haircuts, and of those many, Sam has one--not "the one" as Mike has explained, but just one of the many.

    Another example
    Sam: Please lend me a pencil.
    Max: What kind of pencil? I have several kinds.
    Sam: A nice one. (Meaning, any one pencil in your case)

    or

    Sam: (pointing) The nice one there. (pointing = specific)

    or

    Sam: The green one. ('green' = specific)


    Please consider this situation.
    A teacher asks students to buy a specific textbook and bring it to the next class. In the next class, one student brings a book which is not the one the teacher intended. Here, does the teacher say "you got THE wrong book" or "you got A wrong book"? Unlike "You dialed the wrong number," that wrong book is not the teacher's.
    Teacher: Did you bring your workbooks?
    Student: Yes. Here it is.
    Teacher: That's the wrong workbook.

    the workbook (I asked you to buy) is wrong ~ the wrong workbook.

    "I asked you to buy" modifies "workbook" and makes "workbook" specific and so "The" is added.


    How about a situation like this?
    Two men are looking for a specific woman they know in the street.
    One man says "Isn't that her?" pointing at a woman walking in front of them. The other man understands that it is not her. Here, does the other man say "That's the wrong person" or "That's a wrong person"?
    Pat: There's Miki!
    Sam: No. That's not her.
    Pat: Yes, it is!
    Sam: That's the wrong person.

    the person (we are looking for) is wrong ~ the wrong person

    "we are looking for" makes "person" specific, and so "The" is added.

    Yoroshiku

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    1,369
    Post Thanks / Like
    Here's my go.

    In the case of the phone number, there is only one right phone number, so it's fine to say 'the right number'. IMO, 'the wrong number' is just a parallel construct.
    However, there are several nice haircuts, so you usually can't say 'the right haircut', hence there's no 'the wrong haircut'.

    As for the workbook, 'the right workbook' is ok, so again 'the wrong workbook' works.

    Does it make sense?

    FRC

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    1,369
    Post Thanks / Like
    Here's my go.

    In the case of the phone number, there is only one right phone number, so it's fine to say 'the right number'. IMO, 'the wrong number' is just a parallel construct.
    However, there are several nice haircuts, so you usually can't say 'the right haircut', hence there's no 'the wrong haircut'.

    As for the workbook, 'the right workbook' is ok, so again 'the wrong workbook' works.

    Does it make sense?

    FRC

  7. #17
    oichi Guest
    Hi Francois. Thanks very much for your comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois
    In the case of the phone number, there is only one right phone number, so it's fine to say 'the right number'. IMO, 'the wrong number' is just a parallel construct.
    However, there are several nice haircuts, so you usually can't say 'the right haircut', hence there's no 'the wrong haircut'.

    As for the workbook, 'the right workbook' is ok, so again 'the wrong workbook' works.
    I write this reply to Francois first because what he is saying here is exactly what I was trying to state in my "hypothesis" on Jul 02, while Francois put it in a clearer way than I did.
    I quote my hypothesis again:

    Quote Originally Posted by oichi
    My hypothesis is that it has to do with the word "wrong."
    That is, "the wrong book" is more specifically limited than "a nice haircut."
    Unlike nice or not nice haircuts, there is only one correct book.
    This fact makes any books other than one correct book the wrong books.
    So while there are many possible wrong books you can bring to the class, any one of them is specifically the wrong book.
    On the other hand, neither nice nor not nice haircuts are specifically limited.
    In other words, in my hypothesis, you say "the wrong number" NOT because you are talking about a specific number, but because there is a specific criterion according to which whether a number is right or wrong is decided.
    That specific criterion is pregiven by the specific right number.
    That is, "the" of "the wrong number" means not "the specific number," but "a number that belongs to the specific category of wrong numbers, i.e. the category made specific by the specific right number."

    It sounds so confusing...

    While tdol agreed with my hypothesis, I was not sure if my hypothesis is really right, because what he was saying was actually different than what I was trying to say.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    In the example of 'the wrong book', we use the definite article because we are only interested in the one book you brought in contrast to the one you didn't; we aren't interested in the thousands of other wrong books you could have brought. So, yes, Oichi, I do agree with your analysis.
    So I would also like to ask tdol, Casiopea and other English experts again whether my hypothesis (and Francois') is right, whether it feels right to the native English speaker.

  8. #18
    oichi Guest
    Hi Francois. Thanks very much for your comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois
    In the case of the phone number, there is only one right phone number, so it's fine to say 'the right number'. IMO, 'the wrong number' is just a parallel construct.
    However, there are several nice haircuts, so you usually can't say 'the right haircut', hence there's no 'the wrong haircut'.

    As for the workbook, 'the right workbook' is ok, so again 'the wrong workbook' works.
    I write this reply to Francois first because what he is saying here is exactly what I was trying to state in my "hypothesis" on Jul 02, while Francois put it in a clearer way than I did.
    I quote my hypothesis again:

    Quote Originally Posted by oichi
    My hypothesis is that it has to do with the word "wrong."
    That is, "the wrong book" is more specifically limited than "a nice haircut."
    Unlike nice or not nice haircuts, there is only one correct book.
    This fact makes any books other than one correct book the wrong books.
    So while there are many possible wrong books you can bring to the class, any one of them is specifically the wrong book.
    On the other hand, neither nice nor not nice haircuts are specifically limited.
    In other words, in my hypothesis, you say "the wrong number" NOT because you are talking about a specific number, but because there is a specific criterion according to which whether a number is right or wrong is decided.
    That specific criterion is pregiven by the specific right number.
    That is, "the" of "the wrong number" means not "the specific number," but "a number that belongs to the specific category of wrong numbers, i.e. the category made specific by the specific right number."

    It sounds so confusing...

    While tdol agreed with my hypothesis, I was not sure if my hypothesis is really right, because what he was saying was actually different than what I was trying to say.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    In the example of 'the wrong book', we use the definite article because we are only interested in the one book you brought in contrast to the one you didn't; we aren't interested in the thousands of other wrong books you could have brought. So, yes, Oichi, I do agree with your analysis.
    So I would also like to ask tdol, Casiopea and other English experts again whether my hypothesis (and Francois') is right, whether it feels right to the native English speaker.

  9. #19
    oichi Guest
    Hi tdol.

    Thanks very much for helping me understand this.
    I would like to ask some more additional questions but, thanks to you and other people who kindly responded to me, I feel I'm getting very close to the "right feeling" which the native English speaker has when he says "the wrong..."
    This web site is the best place I have ever found where I can ask questions about English (for free!) :D

    First please read my response to Francois above, in which I explained my "hypothesis" again.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    1- Generally, I'd say 'the wrong person' because there's a specific reason why they are wrong.
    This comment stuck out for me because here you are saying you'd say "the wrong person" not because it is a specific person but because "there's a specific reason why they are wong."
    If I understood what you are saying here correctly, are you saying it is because there is a specific criterion according to which whether the person in question is right or wrong (i.e. whether it is her or not) is decided?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    2- He took a wrong turning and got lost on the way to my house. (Many wrong turnings)
    If I try to explain by my hypothesis why the indefinite article is used in this example, it is used not (just) because there are many wrong turnings -- there are many wrong numbers too -- but it is because the criterion for a right or a wrong turning was not pregiven.
    Or, to put it in another way, it is not just because there are many wrong turnings but also because there are many right turnings (like there are many nice haircuts and many not-nice haircuts).
    Maybe I'm putting it in a confusing way...
    What I want to say is exactly what Francois said, i.e. when you would say "the right...," its counterpart is "the wrong..."; and when you would say "a right...," its counterpart is "a wrong..."
    Is this off the mark?
    What is the counterpart of the above example? -- "He took a right turning" or "He took the right turning"?

    This way of thinking makes me construct another test case:
    If you knew that there is only one right turning and you were watching him from behind, thinking whether he would take that specific right turning, can you say "He took the wrong turning"?

    One more test case:
    If there is a specific haircut which is "bad" for you (the bad haircut) and any other haircuts are nice for you, can you say "You have the nice haircut"?

  10. #20
    oichi Guest
    Hi tdol.

    Thanks very much for helping me understand this.
    I would like to ask some more additional questions but, thanks to you and other people who kindly responded to me, I feel I'm getting very close to the "right feeling" which the native English speaker has when he says "the wrong..."
    This web site is the best place I have ever found where I can ask questions about English (for free!) :D

    First please read my response to Francois above, in which I explained my "hypothesis" again.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    1- Generally, I'd say 'the wrong person' because there's a specific reason why they are wrong.
    This comment stuck out for me because here you are saying you'd say "the wrong person" not because it is a specific person but because "there's a specific reason why they are wong."
    If I understood what you are saying here correctly, are you saying it is because there is a specific criterion according to which whether the person in question is right or wrong (i.e. whether it is her or not) is decided?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    2- He took a wrong turning and got lost on the way to my house. (Many wrong turnings)
    If I try to explain by my hypothesis why the indefinite article is used in this example, it is used not (just) because there are many wrong turnings -- there are many wrong numbers too -- but it is because the criterion for a right or a wrong turning was not pregiven.
    Or, to put it in another way, it is not just because there are many wrong turnings but also because there are many right turnings (like there are many nice haircuts and many not-nice haircuts).
    Maybe I'm putting it in a confusing way...
    What I want to say is exactly what Francois said, i.e. when you would say "the right...," its counterpart is "the wrong..."; and when you would say "a right...," its counterpart is "a wrong..."
    Is this off the mark?
    What is the counterpart of the above example? -- "He took a right turning" or "He took the right turning"?

    This way of thinking makes me construct another test case:
    If you knew that there is only one right turning and you were watching him from behind, thinking whether he would take that specific right turning, can you say "He took the wrong turning"?

    One more test case:
    If there is a specific haircut which is "bad" for you (the bad haircut) and any other haircuts are nice for you, can you say "You have the nice haircut"?

Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. correct use of the article "The"
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 06-Jul-2004, 03:29
  2. with or without "the"
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 23-Apr-2004, 00:41
  3. Do we need the article "the"? Thanks soooo much, t
    By Helped Wanted in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 31-Mar-2004, 16:14
  4. Idiom: Turn over a new leaf, and the "the" article
    By bmo in forum English Idioms and Sayings
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 20-Dec-2003, 22:57
  5. Use of "The" and "A"
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-Jul-2003, 18:57

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •