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  1. #1
    Snappy is offline Member
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    Default Again I have difficulty using "the"

    I still have difficulty using the indefinite article.

    1.
    There are two banks near my house. I use both of them.
    If I am on my way to one of the banks and somebody asks me where I am going, what should I say?
    1) I'm going to the bank. (I know which bank I am going to but the person I am talking to does not know it. Is it okay to say this?)
    or
    2) I'm going to a bank.
    or
    Could you suggest what answers are appropriate?

    2.
    Similarly, there are two libraries near my house. I use both of them.
    What should I answer in the same situation?

    3.
    In similar situations, I know that I can say, "I'm going to the City Hall, Ward Office, District Court, etc. because they are specific ones.)
    If it is a restaurant, I would probably say, "I'm going to a restaurant," (not the restaurant though I always use only one restaurant).
    Then what about "bookstore," "department store," and "supermarket"? (There are several bookstores, department stores, and supermarkets around here.)

  2. #2
    nuharani is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    "The" is definite article, and you can use it in
    1. The second sentence. e.g I bought two books. The books are very good.
    2. To mention something that is only one in the world. e.g The moon, the sun. etc.
    3. To show superlative in degrees of comparison. This hotel is the best in this country.

  3. #3
    Snappy is offline Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by nuharani View Post
    "The" is definite article, and you can use it in
    1. The second sentence. e.g I bought two books. The books are very good.
    2. To mention something that is only one in the world. e.g The moon, the sun. etc.
    3. To show superlative in degrees of comparison. This hotel is the best in this country.
    Thanks, I understand the basic rules that you mentioned.
    I am still looking forward to receiving answers to my questions.

  4. #4
    tedtmc is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    I'm going to the bank. (I know which bank I am going to but the person I am talking to does not know it. Is it okay to say this?)

    Yes, it is. 'I am going to the bank' is still a general statement even though 'the' is a definite article.

    not a teacher

  5. #5
    Snappy is offline Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    You always go to
    the bank
    the library
    the supermarket

    but not "the restaurant" unless the person you are talking to know which one it is. I understood.

    Could you give me some more place/facility names you use "the"?

    What about the following ones?


    zoo, grocery store, drugstore, park, (swimming) pool, barber, hairdresser, greengrocer, flower shop, pet shop, shoe shop, bicycle shop, fruit shop,, pub, cafe, museum, (art) gallery, aquarium, botanical garden


    Should I say, for example, "I'm going to a shoe shop," if the person I am talking to does not know where it is though I have it in mind? Do the person understand that I am gong to the shoe shop that I usually use if I say "I'm going to the shoe shop"?

  6. #6
    Snappy is offline Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    You say,
    You go to the police station, fire station, post office, and library
    but do not put "the" before restaurant, museum, or aquarium unless the person you are talking to knows which one you are referring to.

    Is it possible to presume that "restaurant, "museum," and "aquarium" are words of foreign origins and that's why putting "the" before these words sounds strange to native speakers of English?

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    Also, the shops & hairdresser/greengrocer, etc, where in a village or small town there may only be one or where there's a good chance that the person will tend to use the same one.

  8. #8
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    Don't feel badly, Snappy, our use of "the" doesn't make much sense any more, you just have to develop an ear for it, over time. Usually it means a particular noun known to both speaker and listener, but often it's only used because it sounds like we've heard it that way more often than not. In your examples, we use "the bank" etc. because each person has got one bank that they are thinking of. If I said "I need to take an hour off work to go to a bank" people might suggest a nearby bank, but I have to go to my bank, so I say "to the bank." For restaurants, we can also say "to the restaurant" but this implies there is a single habitual one. It definitely has nothing to do with the foreign origin of the noun, as in museum, etc. Less than 50% of our nouns come from good old Anglo-Saxon. It's about habitual belonging, rather than etymology.

  9. #9
    Snappy is offline Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Don't feel badly, Snappy, our use of "the" doesn't make much sense any more, you just have to develop an ear for it, over time. Usually it means a particular noun known to both speaker and listener, but often it's only used because it sounds like we've heard it that way more often than not. In your examples, we use "the bank" etc. because each person has got one bank that they are thinking of. If I said "I need to take an hour off work to go to a bank" people might suggest a nearby bank, but I have to go to my bank, so I say "to the bank." For restaurants, we can also say "to the restaurant" but this implies there is a single habitual one. It definitely has nothing to do with the foreign origin of the noun, as in museum, etc. Less than 50% of our nouns come from good old Anglo-Saxon. It's about habitual belonging, rather than etymology.

    Thank you for giving me a lot of advice.

    Let me check one more thing.

    Does "I am going to a restaurant to meet my family for dinner" sound unnatural? Should I say, "I am going to the restaurant to meet my family for dinner."? I thought it would be okay to say, "I am going to a restaurant to...," if the person I am talking to does not know which one is "the restaurant."

    If "I am going to a restaurant to meet my family for dinner" sounds unnatural, what about "I went to a restaurant to meet my family for dinner."?

    Sorry for my sticky question.

  10. #10
    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Again I have difficulty using "the"

    hello,

    I'm just a student!

    I'd say it's perfectly OK to say "I'm going to a restaurant..." or "I'm going to the restaurant...".

    the usage of "the" and "a" in English, in this case, seems to be the same as in my native language.

    using "the" suggests that the restaurant is familiar to you, that you frequently go to it or that the listener somehow knows which restaurant you're talking about.

    using "a" suggests the opposite, to me.

    may also imply that you don't want to reveal which restaurant you're going to. if you say "the restaurant", the listener may automatically connect it to a specific one. when you say "a restaurant", it suggests that it's a new one or a restaurant that you are not used to visit.

    as to "bank", it's the same thing: using "a" suggests that you're going to a bank that you don't usually go. "the" suggests the opposite. I'd use either, aware of the tiny difference in meaning.

    I'm just a student and I may be flat wrong.

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