Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 44
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 354
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    Took the/a wrong bus

    Native speakers of English say, "I took the wrong bus." (Not "a wrong bus.")
    In the following context, is it possible to say, "I took a wrong bus."?

    "I took a wrong bus. The cushion was bad, and it was not punctual at all."

  1. Monticello's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 455
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    Native speakers of English say, "I took the wrong bus." (Not "a wrong bus.")
    In the following context, is it possible to say, "I took a wrong bus."?

    "I took a wrong bus. The cushion was bad, and it was not punctual at all."
    Hi Snappy,

    Both sentences are acceptable:
    I took the wrong bus.
    I took a wrong bus.
    - though one is more apt to hear "... the wrong bus."

    In both sentences, the phrase wrong bus here means wrong bus route, that is, a bus that took one to an unintended destination.

    In the case of the following sentences, however, one could infer from the cause and effect implied that the bus ride was not up to expectations, i.e., that the conditions of the ride itself were substandard:
    I took a wrong bus. (???) The cushion was bad, and it was not punctual at all.
    Thus, the phrase wrong bus -- which, again, means wrong bus route -- doesn't make any sense here. Better:
    The bus ride was _________ (here, take your pick or supply your own: inconvenient, horrible, taxing, a trial, an endurance test, etc.). The cushion was ... etc.

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 354
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    Monticello,

    Thank you for your information. It was clear and informative.

  2. Monticello's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 455
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    My pleasure Snappy. - Just make sure that you double-check the bus route before boarding! As for the ride itself ... - there's always a customer service line for complaints.

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 354
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    Quote Originally Posted by Monticello View Post
    My pleasure Snappy. - Just make sure that you double-check the bus route before boarding! As for the ride itself ... - there's always a customer service line for complaints.
    One thing.
    Are the following sentences okay?
    Situation: There are several choices of correct and wrong answers/decisions.
    You selected a wrong answer.
    You made a wrong decision.
    Situation: There are several buses leaving a bus terminal for different destinations.
    Oh, that's a wrong bus. (There is only one right bus and the others are all wrong.)


    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 3
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #6

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    One thing.
    Are the following sentences okay?
    Situation: There are several choices of correct and wrong answers/decisions.
    You selected a wrong answer.
    You made a wrong decision.
    Situation: There are several buses leaving a bus terminal for different destinations.
    Oh, that's a wrong bus. (There is only one right bus and the others are all wrong.)

    To me, "That's a wrong bus." still doesn't sound quite right. Maybe because you don't often hear it. There might not be anything wrong with the statement technically. I'm just more used to hearing "That's THE wrong bus." It may be because of the word "that" in the sentence. It seems to refer the defect to the bus instead of to the route. There's nothing wrong with the bus, except its going to the wrong destination. Therefore, its the wrong bus...?

    I would say that in the first situation the two statements are correct. Because the situation states there are a number of incorrect choices, selecting one of them can be expressed as "you selected a wrong answer". And the defect actually lies within the answer or decision, so using "a" sounds right.

    By the way, I'm not a teacher, so feel free to correct me!

  3. Monticello's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 455
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #7

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    Hi necromorphic,

    First, recall that the context of Snappy's question was: "I took the/a wrong bus." The context you now present -- which introduces the determiner, that -- is different. Isn't it?:

    Quote Originally Posted by necromorphic
    To me, "That's a wrong bus." still doesn't sound quite right. Maybe because you don't often hear it. There might not be anything wrong with the statement technically. I'm just more used to hearing "That's THE wrong bus." It may be because of the word "that" in the sentence.
    Exactly. Your new context creates new demands. The sentence: 'That's a wrong bus.' -- "still doesn't sound quite right" --because it may not be (correct) -- depending on the context in which this sentence might be used.

    Here, in your context, the determiner, that, refers not just to any old bus, but to a specific bus -- that bus. Thus, the seeming conspicuous need for the corresponding determiner in your sentence, the definite article, the (and not the indefinite article, a) to precede bus. If, here, one is talking about that and only that bus, then one correctly expects the noun phrase -- the wrong bus -- to follow.

    But does this mean that the sentence ''That's a wrong bus.' would always be incorrect?

    - No.

    Why?

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 354
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #8

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    I must say thank you to those who gave me useful information, but I am still confused.

    Isn't it possible to use "a wrong ..." in the following cases, where "wrong" means "bad" rather than "unsuitable"?

    I had a wrong impression of her. (bad impression)
    I made a wrong decision. (bad decision)
    That is a wrong idea. (bad idea)

  4. Monticello's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 455
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #9

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    I must say thank you to those who gave me useful information, but I am still confused.

    Isn't it possible to use "a wrong ..." in the following cases, where "wrong" means "bad" rather than "unsuitable"?

    I had a wrong impression of her. (bad impression)
    I made a wrong decision. (bad decision)
    That is a wrong idea. (bad idea)
    Hello again Snappy,

    It's good for you to pose your questions about usage here in order that you may receive feedback from native English speakers and teachers.

    At the same time, please realize that some of your questions may be answered by consulting some good online references. There are many online dictionaries at your disposal. To get acquainted with some, you might consider browsing through this list of online English dictionary links, returned from a Google search.

    Likewise, there are a number of online resources that you may consult in regard to English idioms and their usages. To get acquainted with these, browse through this list of online English idiom reference links, again, returned from a basic Google search.

    Also, don't forget that this site provides reference materials, which may be found within this link: http://www.usingenglish.com/reference.html.

    Finally, being American, my preferred online dictionary is The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition; 2004) (AHDEL). This online resource will provide you with many insights into current American English usage.

    In regard to your specific question from your post: Let's take a look at the AHDEL entry for the word wrong. Click on the preceding link to go there now. Read through the eight different meanings listed there for the adjective form. When you do, you'll find that the second one listed for this entry is somewhat synonymous with your interpretation (i.e., bad):
    2a. Contrary to conscience, morality, or law; immoral or wicked.
    But notice also, the very first listed definition:
    1. Not in conformity with fact or truth; incorrect or erroneous.
    Are these two definitions really synonymous? (That is, do they mean the same thing?) - obviously, no. And here is where your difficulty lies:

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy
    I had a wrong impression of her. (bad impression) ???
    I made a wrong decision. (bad decision) ???
    That is a wrong idea. (bad idea) ???
    A wrong impression is more likely to mean an incorrect impression -- which may have been either good or bad; likewise, a wrong decision, or a wrong idea.

    I hope that you see now that your usage is not necessarily wrong (and by this I mean either bad or incorrect) here. And that if you really wish to use the word wrong to mean bad in any of your above sentences, then you would also need to follow up with some further explanation in order to make this clear for you reader or listener.

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 354
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #10

    Re: Took the/a wrong bus

    Monticello,

    Thank you for your information.
    Yes, I have been using American Heritage on the Internet and other dictionary sources.
    I posted the original question because I wanted to know how native speakers of English use "the/a wrong something."

    I am getting to understand the rule of thumb.

Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. wrong of you/ for you to do sth
    By joham in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 29-Apr-2010, 11:11
  2. [General] to the wrong person or to a wrong person?
    By ohmyrichard in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 27-Feb-2009, 07:13
  3. Complaint letter about wrong ad
    By bosun in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-Oct-2008, 16:54
  4. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-Jun-2008, 22:56
  5. Right or wrong please?
    By timanura in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-Jun-2007, 15:51

Posting Permissions

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