Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. zorank's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Croatian
      • Home Country:
      • Croatia
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden

    • Join Date: Sep 2011
    • Posts: 74
    #1

    use of the definite article with a plural noun

    Hello,

    I have the following problem with ?THE/0? use of the definite article. This problem haunts me frequently in my scientific writing since instances of it can be rather subtle. (My native tounge is of ?THE/0? Slavic origin and we do not have ?THESE/THE/0? articles.) I can provide more examples as we progress in the discussion (hopefully, hope someone will try to help).
    In the construct THE + PLURAL NOUN it is not clear to me whether this refers to the whole set or just a subgroup of the set. For example, assume that we are in a room with a table. There is a bowl of apples on the table. I tell you:
    (1) “Please take the apples”.
    (2) “Please take apples”.
    How would you understand (1) versus (2). Would you take them all, or just a few.
    You reply
    (1) “Apples are good. Thanks for offering them”.
    (2) “The apples are good. Thanks for offering them”.
    How should I understand (1) versus (2) (i.e. are you going to snatch them all or not)?
    Regards
    Zoran

    p.s. Also, I would be grateful if someone could comment on which choices to make for ?...?.
    Last edited by zorank; 29-Sep-2011 at 13:46.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,910
    #2

    Re: use of the definite article with a plural noun

    1- This suggests the person should take them all.
    2 This sounds a bit strange to me- take an apple or take some apples would work better.

  2. zorank's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Croatian
      • Home Country:
      • Croatia
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden

    • Join Date: Sep 2011
    • Posts: 74
    #3

    Re: use of the definite article with a plural noun

    Thanks for (extramely fast) help!

    So in this particular case THE + A PLURAL NOUN = ALL.

    What about a situation like this:

    The same table, room, bowl, etc.

    I say,

    "Please take some apples".

    You reply either

    (1) "Apples are good. Thanks."

    or

    (2) "The apples are good. Thanks".

    What do you mean exactly if you say (1), and what do you mean when you say (2)?

    For example, if one wants to just say that you think that apples taste good, and you are happy being offered some, which version of the answers should one use?

    Zoran

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 12,310
    #4

    Re: use of the definite article with a plural noun

    (1) “Apples are good. Thanks for offering them”.
    "Apples are good" means that, in general, you think all apples, everywhere, every kind are good. It is not a statement about these particular apples.

    (2) “The apples are good. Thanks for offering them”.
    This is talking about these particular apples. It would be strange to say they are good if you had not tried one previously. Saying "These apples look good" would be more natural.

  3. zorank's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Croatian
      • Home Country:
      • Croatia
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden

    • Join Date: Sep 2011
    • Posts: 74
    #5

    Re: use of the definite article with a plural noun

    AHA! 1000 Thanks!

    Could I say

    "The apples look good. Thanks for offering them"

    Then I mean all of these apples on the table. Right?

    Z.

    p.s. This is something that always puzzles me. It is enough to take away or add one THE and the whole meaning of the sentence changes. Like (1) versus (2). (2) is, indeed, very strange once one understands how a native English speaker would understand it. All this THE/A busines is like an applied set theory, though very subtle at times.
    Last edited by zorank; 29-Sep-2011 at 15:29.

  4. zorank's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Croatian
      • Home Country:
      • Croatia
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden

    • Join Date: Sep 2011
    • Posts: 74
    #6

    Re: use of the definite article with a plural noun

    and a related question:

    Is there such example where

    THE + A PLURAL NOUN

    would mean a part of a group?

    Z.

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] When to use a noun with article a and a noun in plural form
    By Ferdie11 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 17-Mar-2011, 22:08
  2. any + countable noun = single or plural noun?
    By hangle124 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-Apr-2009, 20:55
  3. [Grammar] Man(human) man(male) men (plural) and the definite article...+adverbs
    By Maluues in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Sep-2008, 00:09
  4. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-Jun-2007, 09:28
  5. definite article!
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 17-Jun-2004, 10:06

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •