Interested in Language
Could any teachers explain to me the meaning of the following sentences on the use of the definite article? What does it mean by "common" and "half abstract"? Thank you.
182. The, when placed before the pluralized abstract noun, marks it as half abstract or a common noun.
His messages to the provincial authorities.—Motley.
He was probably skilled in the subtleties of Italian statesmanship.—Id.
An abstract noun, normally has a singular form so that it falls into a class by itself but at times they are being spoken of in plural form, in particular by famous authors and poets. Look at the following sentence:
The arts differ from the sciences in this, that their power is founded not merely on facts which can be communicated, but on dispositions which require to be created.—Ruskin.
It could be spoken as: Art differs from science, that the……Here the words (without an article)are pure abstract nouns but in case an art or a science, or the arts and sciences, the abstract idea is partly lost. The words thus preceded by an article a, or made plural, are still names of abstract ideas, but they widen the application to separate kinds of art or different branches of science. Consequently they are neither class nouns nor pure abstract nouns: they are more properly called half abstract.