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    • Join Date: Jun 2007
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    #1

    a "noun "of vs. the "noun" of

    I have an article problem.
    I cannot differentiate between when to use an article
    when it is the case of a "noun" of and the "noun" of

    Here's my example from the sentence I just wrote.

    When it is a case of
    When it is the case of

    How do they differ?


    How about this one?
    I am sorry for asking A question that has been asked by many peple.

    I am sorry for asking the question that has been asked by many peple.
    Thank you in advance!

    I guess both sentences are correct.
    I can tel there is an interpretation for each question.
    Last edited by purine5; 04-Nov-2009 at 00:16.

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    #2

    Re: a "noun "of vs. the "noun" of

    We can talk about the gramatical rules, but maybe you need a mnemenic device? That's something that you do understand, to help remind you how to do or say something you don't understand or remember.

    Let's talk about cats for a moment. Do you know the difference between ANY cat and THAT cat? If I say I am afraid of ANY cat, do you understand the difference from that than if I would say I am afraid of THAT cat?

    Any is non-definitive. I'm not pointing to your cat. I will jump out of my pyjamas if ANY cat comes near me. I am afraid of cats. All cats.

    That is definiite. It points to a specific cat. Not the nice little pussy cat you have in your lap right now - I like that one. I am afraid of the one in the alley with nasty yellow eyes and hungry fangs. THAT cat scares me. And that is definite.

    So ... to decide whether to use a or the, think of any and that.

    I am afraid of a cat / any cat means all cats in fact scare the bejezus out of me.
    I am afaid of the cat / that cat means only that nasty feline over there snarling at me has me shaking.

    A (or an) = non-definitive. Any
    The = definitive. Only one exists. The one.

    Now let's see how that applies to your last questionable sentences:

    I am sorry for asking A question that has been asked by many people.
    This tells us that there are lots of questions that have been asked by many people. You are sorry for asking ANY one of them (not one specific question).

    I am sorry for asking the question that has been asked by many people.

    This tells us that there is only one question that has been asked by many people. You are sorry for asking THAT specific question again (the single question that everyone's asking).

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