Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. suprunp's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Ukrainian
      • Home Country:
      • Ukraine
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine

    • Join Date: Apr 2011
    • Posts: 599
    #1

    the occasional friendly chat

    Maybe they could have been good friends. For a ten-year-old boy and girl to become good friends was not easy under any circumstances. Indeed, it might be one of the most difficult accomplishments in the world. But while they ought to have managed the occasional friendly chat, such an opportunity never presented itself to Tengo and Aomame.
    (H. Murakami; 1Q84)

    Would you be so kind to explain to me why it is "the" and not "an"?

    Thanks.

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

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,903
    #2

    Re: the occasional friendly chat

    You could use an too.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,092
    #3

    Re: the occasional friendly chat

    "they ought to have managed occasional friendly chats" is also possible.
    The use of "the" here is common. It has no special significance though, that I'm aware of. You'll see the occasional variant like this if you read enough.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,868
    #4

    Re: the occasional friendly chat

    I can't think of a reason for it but it's certainly very common.

    - Do you have a healthy diet?
    - Most of the time, yes. I have the occasional hamburger and fries but mostly I eat salad.

    - Does your car run well?
    - Yes, it's great. It has the occasional blip and won't start in the mornings but generally it's fine.

    - Do you see your brother often?
    - Not often, but we have the occasional meetup in town.

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

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #5

    Re: the occasional friendly chat

    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) May I add my two cents to this fascinating discussion?

    (2) I think that we are often taught that the definite article is often

    used for something that is expected or assumed; the indefinite article is often used to express a more

    abstract concept.

    (3) The text says "While they ought to [ expectation?] have managed THE occasional friendly chat,

    such ...." Maybe "an" would have been too abstract.

    (4) I have also heard that a noun phrase that begins with "the" takes longer for the reader to

    process in his mind than a noun phrase that begins with "a" or "an." Maybe the author also took that

    into consideration. Maybe it is my imagination, but "the occasional friendly chat" seems more emphatic

    than "an occasional friendly chat." (The word "the" does seem to force us to pay more attention to

    "occasional friendly chat" than the word "an" would do.)

Similar Threads

  1. small chat or short chat
    By allthewayanime in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 09-Nov-2011, 21:07
  2. [Vocabulary] Occasional
    By Silverobama in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14-Jul-2011, 07:35
  3. [Vocabulary] environmental friendly or environmentally friendly?
    By jiaruchan in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-Mar-2010, 17:24
  4. the occasional politician?
    By NotMeantToBe in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 17-Jan-2010, 07:32
  5. 270-occasional pint
    By matilda in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-Apr-2007, 12:51

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
  •