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    #1

    "a" in exchange for "the"

    Hello!

    The difference in meaning between the two A and B sentences.

    A. Have you seen the new production of ‘Hamlet' at the Playhouse ?
    (from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
    B. Have you seen a new production of ‘Hamlet' at the Playhouse ?
    (after my modification on the article)

    Am I right in interpreting them as follows?
    For A: The hearer knows about the production already before being asked.
    And for B: The hearer does not know about the production at all about the production.

    Sincerely

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    #2

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    hello kazuo
    yes i think you are right because `the` is for definite words that you are familiar to it,but `a` or `an` is for undefinite words
    please say me,if iwas wrong.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazuo View Post
    Hello!

    The difference in meaning between the two A and B sentences.

    A. Have you seen the new production of ‘Hamlet' at the Playhouse ?
    (from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
    B. Have you seen a new production of ‘Hamlet' at the Playhouse ?
    (after my modification on the article)

    Am I right in interpreting them as follows?
    For A: The hearer knows about the production already before being asked.
    And for B: The hearer does not know about the production at all about the production.

    Sincerely
    No, I'm afraid that's incorrect.

    You need "the" because you go on to say which production of Hamlet you mean.

    Here is how your rule works - and you're right.

    A: What did you do this weekend?
    B: I saw a new production of Hamlet. [A does not know about the new show and you have not talked about it before.]

    A: What did you do this weekend?
    B: I saw the new production of Hamlet. [A and B had previously talked about this show and A knows about it.]

    A: What did you do this weekend?
    B: I saw a new production of Hamlet. [A does not know about the new show and you have not talked about it before.]

    However, the other difference between "a" and "the" is when there is more than one compared to only one. Use "a" for when there is more than one, and "the" for when there is only one.

    You are telling the listener exactly which version of Hamlet you mean by saying "at the Playhouse." There is only one new production of Hamlet at the Playhouse, so you need "the."

    It's the same as if there were one orange and two bananas in the fruit bowl. I took the orange that was on the table. I took a banana that was on the table.

    It doesn't matter if my listener knew about the fruit or even knew there was a table - there was only one orange that meets that description, and I took it.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 25-Feb-2010 at 15:09.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #4

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    Thank you very much for your replies, Amir b, and Barb_D.

    Amir b, would you please read the reply from Barb_D as for your matter?

    As for the reply from Barb_D: in general, I understand your explanation. Everyday conversation goes on this way, I think.

    But there still exists a question. As a question of hypothesis, I suppose such a case in which the speaker and the hearer are interested in this trade and therefore know that they give three performances a day.
    Do you say in this environment “Have you seen a new production of ‘Hamlet' at the Playhouse ?”
    Please consider cases with or without changes of the actors, translators, etc.

    Sincerely.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    Perhaps the problem is with the word "production" -- that means the entire run of the play.

    If you know that they are doing, for example, a children's version, and Spanish version, and an English version, then you could say "Have you seen one of the new productions of Hamlet at the Playhouse?"

    You still wouldn't use "a" there.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #6

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    Hello!

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    Something still remains not clear. Please let me continue the discussion and ask you a question.

    On the Internet, I found a sentence, which is as follows.

    Mary Ann saw a new production of CAROUSEL at Lincoln Center.

    I think the sentence above is almost similar in construction to the sentence below, though they express different things.

    Have you seen the new production of ‘Hamlet' at the Playhouse ?

    Sincerely

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    #7

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    There is a difference between "Mary saw" and "Have you seen."

    If you and I are talking and I say "Have you seen..." we already have a shared area of understanding. I know the theater,and I know you know about the theater. I would not start a question "Have you seen" without assuming you already were in our shared area of knowledge - that there is a new production of Hamlet at the Playhouse.

    If I didn't think you knew about it, I would phrase it differently. "There's a new production of Hamlet at the Playhouse. Have you seen it?"

    If I thought you knew about it, I would say "This weekend I saw the new production... etc."

    If I didn't think you knew about it, I might say either "I saw the new production of Hamlet that they are putting on at the Playhouse" or "I saw a new production of Hamlet at the Playhouse" -- I assume do you DO know the theater, but just not that they had a new production going on. It would NOT imply there were several new versions going on at once -- only that you didn't know about this new production before.

    Articles are very difficult.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #8

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazuo View Post
    Hello!

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    Something still remains not clear. Please let me continue the discussion and ask you a question.

    On the Internet, I found a sentence, which is as follows.

    Mary Ann saw a new production of CAROUSEL at Lincoln Center.(Absence of shared knowledge, i.e. only Mary Ann knew what the new production of CAROUSEL was but not the writer.)

    I think the sentence above is almost similar in construction to the sentence below, though they express different things.

    Have you seen the new production of ‘Hamlet' at the Playhouse ?
    (Shared knowledge, i.e. both the speaker and the hearer understand what the new production of "hamlet" at the Playhouse is.)

    Sincerely
    (Not a teacher.)

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    #9

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    Hallo!

    After searching on the Internet I found sentences as follows.
    Have you seen a UFO?
    Have you seen a ghost?
    Have you seen a spirit?
    Have you seen a lizard?
    …. etc

    If I replace the indefinite articles in the sentences above with the
    definite article, the crux of my problem seems to become a little clearer. The sentences above do not assume shared knowledge of
    UFOs, ghosts, spirits, lizards. The speaker simply asks if you have seen any UFO, any ghost etc, i.e. not definite ones.
    Returning to the question of the “new production of Hamlet”, the hearer would feel confused if the speaker said “Have you seen a new production of ‘Hamlet’ at the Playhouse?” because the sentence implies the existence of another new production. It is impossible physically and grammatically, because of the shared knowledge the speaker and the hearer have, which does not permit the use of the indefinite article. Is my understanding so far right?

    Sincerely

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    #10

    Re: "a" in exchange for "the"

    I think you have it.

    As I said, articles are hard. I have said several times on this forum that as a native speaker and paid writer, I myself struggle with the best choice of articles at times, so don't be discouraged if you find parts of them hard to understand.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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