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    #1

    article question. what's the difference?

    Hello,

    As a non native speaker, the problem of choosing the right definite/indefinite article has been very frustrating, and the following problem has been extra perplexing to me.

    1. In economics, [the] prices of gasoline and food have a significant impact on the overall economy.

    Setting aside the validity of the above sentence, I really can't tell what the difference would be in including "the" there or not including it. If somebody can explain to me in detail, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks in advance for your valuable time.

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    #2

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    I can't think of any difference in this example if you include "the" or not.

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    #3

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    Thank you for answering my question. May I ask a follow up question on the same subject?

    1. He is a son of a pastor
    2. He is the son of a pastor

    If I were to say these two sentences to describe a man whose father was a pastor, and assuming that that is all the information I posses, would either of those sentences be wrong?

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    #4

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    "He was the son of a pastor" would mean that his pastor dad had only one son. Probably.

    "He was a son of a pastor" would not say anything about whether he had other brothers.

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    #5

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    "He was the son of a pastor" would mean that his pastor dad had only one son. Probably.

    "He was a son of a pastor" would not say anything about whether he had other brothers.
    I don't agree on this one. Although this would seem to be logical, I think that we use 'the son of a ...' to mean 'a ...'s son'; We don't normally use 'a son of a ...'. I don't know why this should be so.

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    #6

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I don't agree on this one. Although this would seem to be logical, I think that we use 'the son of a ...' to mean 'a ...'s son'; We don't normally use 'a son of a ...'. I don't know why this should be so.
    I agree. If someone said to me "I am the son of a pastor", I would not assume that he had no brothers. I would know that if he said "I am the only son of a pastor". You're right, we simply don't say "I'm a daughter of ..." or "He's a son of ..." (well, we might say the latter but it would be followed by the rest of a well-known insult!)

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    #7

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    I've just checked with COCA. There are hundreds of '... is the son of a P' where P is a person defined by profession or race. There are only one or two examples of '... is a son of a P', though there are a hundred or more examples of '... is a son of a (insulting word)'

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    #8

    Re: article question. what's the difference?


    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER



    Slim,

    I thought that you would like this information that I found in a grammar book entitled
    A Grammar of the English Grammar, which was written by the great grammarian George O. Curme:

    A noun is often without an article ... when the noun does not designate a definite

    individual but something abstract, such as a relationship:

    Willliams was son of an officer in the service of the East India Company.


    (Volume II, Syntax, page 513, "Definite Article with Generalizing Force.")

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    #9

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER



    Slim,

    I thought that you would like this information that I found in a grammar book entitled
    A Grammar of the English Grammar, which was written by the great grammarian George O. Curme:

    A noun is often without an article ... when the noun does not designate a definite

    individual but something abstract, such as a relationship:

    Willliams was son of an officer in the service of the East India Company.


    (Volume II, Syntax, page 513, "Definite Article with Generalizing Force.")
    It may appear in a grammar book, but "Williams was son of an officer in the service of the East India Company" sounds extremely unnatural to me without the article. May I ask when the book was written?

    I can understand it being article-less if it follows a comma:

    Williams, son of the first ever commercial airline pilot, was killed in an air crash in 1963.

    Sarah Jones, daughter of the famous scientist Mark Jones, has been imprisoned for possession of drugs.

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    #10

    Re: article question. what's the difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    May I ask when the book was written?

    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER


    (1) It was written in the great year of 1931.

    (2) He refers to the East India Company, so I assume that it is older English.

    (3) It is, however, still very elegant writing, IMHO.

    (4) Many people feel that Professor Curme's book will outlive some of the books

    written by various whippersnappers.

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