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  1. #1
    lovecindy's Avatar
    lovecindy is offline Junior Member
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    Default How can I distinguish between a and the?

    Please read this sentence:Russia and China say American plans to build a/the missile defense system in central Europe could do more harm than good.

    Since 'build' has voiced consonant 'd', when it connects with 'a', we pronounce [de], just like 'the'.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    rj1948 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: How can I distinguish between a and the?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovecindy View Post
    Please read this sentence:Russia and China say American plans to build a/the missile defense system in central Europe could do more harm than good.

    Since 'build' has voiced consonant 'd', when it connects with 'a', we pronounce [de], just like 'the'.

    Thank you in advance.
    'A' is an indefinite article. There are many missile systems.The one that you mentioned is one of them.'The' is not correct .
    Regards,
    rj1948.

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    Thumbs up Re: How can I distinguish between a and the?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovecindy View Post
    Please read this sentence:Russia and China say American plans to build a/the missile defense system in central Europe could do more harm than good.

    Since 'build' has voiced consonant 'd', when it connects with 'a', we pronounce [de], just like 'the'.

    Thank you in advance.
    Good observation! This is called assimilation, and is perfectly intelligible to native English speakers. You can also pronounce /a/ like the /ai/ in /pain/ if you want to. This will still sound natural to most of us.

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    Thumbs down Re: How can I distinguish between a and the?

    Quote Originally Posted by rj1948 View Post
    'A' is an indefinite article. There are many missile systems.The one that you mentioned is one of them.'The' is not correct .
    Regards,
    rj1948.
    This is not a grammar question.

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    Default Re: How can I distinguish between a and the?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovecindy View Post
    Please read this sentence:Russia and China say American plans to build a/the missile defense system in central Europe could do more harm than good.

    Since 'build' has voiced consonant 'd', when it connects with 'a', we pronounce [de], just like 'the'.

    Thank you in advance.
    You are almost right. I suppose some American English speakers might say "de" for "the". However I am British and I still manage to squeeze a "th" after the d. In my experience "the" never becomes "de". Build-the and build-a would sound quite distinct. In this case however the word "the" is the definite article and it would not be used by a native speaker in that sentence unless you had spoken about it (the missile system) previously.

  6. #6
    mfwills is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: How can I distinguish between a and the?

    Quote Originally Posted by AngloKelt View Post
    You are almost right. I suppose some American English speakers might say "de" for "the". However I am British and I still manage to squeeze a "th" after the d. In my experience "the" never becomes "de". Build-the and build-a would sound quite distinct. In this case however the word "the" is the definite article and it would not be used by a native speaker in that sentence unless you had spoken about it (the missile system) previously.
    More like "build da missile system" if a specific system was being discussed, but "build a missile system" if it was indefinite. More likely than not, "build da" and "build a" would be indistinguishable in some parts of the country or among certain groups of people, and the meaning of the indistinguishable phrase would depend entirely on the context in which it was heard.

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