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    #1

    A rule of how to use "the"

    Dear teacher,

    I've learned the following rule of how to use the definite article (the).

    We use the definite article with certain kinds of proper nouns:
    Geographical places: the Sound, the Sea of Japan, the Mississippi, the West, the Smokies, the Sahara (but often not when the main part of the proper noun seems to be modified by an earlier attributive noun or adjective: We went swimming at Ocean Park)
    ...
    Nouns followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with "of": the leader of the gang, the president of our club.
    I however ran into a sentence that apparently doesn't apply to the rule mentioned while reading news on the New York Times.

    “It’s important to keep the economy in mind here. Sometimes Black Friday is not an indicator of the holiday season, because people are so focused on deals that they’ll get themselves up early,” she said, while in better economic times, they will shop even on days without huge promotions. New York Times (subscription, free)
    Could you please explain to me why "an indicator" is used, not "the indicator"? Thanks.


    LQZ

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    #2

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    If "the indicator" were used, it would suggest that there is only ONE indicator. "An indicator" denotes that there may be other indicators as well.

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    #3

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by sglowski View Post
    If "the indicator" were used, it would suggest that there is only ONE indicator. "An indicator" denotes that there may be other indicators as well.
    Thanks, sglowski.

    But can I think of the quoted rule as incorrect?

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    That rule is incorrect.

    A friend of ours from home
    A world of possibilities
    A Tale of Two Cities
    A glass of the finest wine
    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.

  2. riquecohen's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    Please note that the name of the newspaper is The New York Times.

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    #6

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by riquecohen View Post
    Please note that the name of the newspaper is The New York Times.
    Though in links and citations, the definite article is sometimes dropped.

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    #7

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    He is The New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston.

    Is this sentence correct with The?

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    Well, I'd be surprised if a person named "Joan" was a "he," but that's besides the point.

    The New York Times is a newspaper. Joan may be a reporter with the NYT, but that wouldn't make her a best-selling author. She needs to write a book for that.

    Regardless of that, I'd say "New York Times columnist Joan Smith" or "Washington Post blogger Jim Adams" without the "the" in both cases. The desire to hyphenate is strong, but I'm resisting it in favor of clarity.
    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.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    I would say, 'the New York Times columnist (,) Joan Smith,' using the definite article for columnist.

    This becomes clear if I refer to a writer for 'Playboy', the name of which is not preceded by the: 'the Playboy columnist (,) Joan Smith'.

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: A rule of how to use "the"

    Note the key difference in my usage and 5JJ's: I use it as a title (New York Times columnist Joan Smith) and he uses it with an appositive (The New York Times columnist, Joan Smith,) with the commas.
    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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