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    #1

    "the" or no "the"

    I'm now reading a book called "Three Crucial Words: A, An, The" by Alan S. Brender to better understand these three articles. It's a great book mostly written for Japanese learners of English, who don't have articles inherent in their native language and for whom the English article system is extremetly difficult to master. We often omit English articles or use the wrong ones just as English-speaking learners of Japanese, who don't have particles in their native languages, often omit Japanese particles or use the wrong ones.

    I've read about a third of the book. So far, the book has dealt with the use of the articles when the noun is "previously mentioned" or "specific" as well as when referring to meat (You can use "a" when the meat still looks like the animal but "a" is not used when it is cut up), etc.

    Here are excercises from the book. We are to fill in the blank spaces with "a" or "the. If no article is required, we will write "-".

    MRS. OGAWA'S DINNER PARTY
    Midori was busy in the kitchen preparing food for her dinner party. She had bought nearly a kilo of (-) chiken to make yakitori. She had also purchased (2) (-) beef, (3) (-) pork and (4) a large fish. She planned to bake (5) the whole fish. The stove was covered with pots and pans. In one pot (6) -/the rice was being steamed. (7) (-) hot water was boiling in a second pot, and (8) (-) chiken was frying in a skillet.

    Question 1: For (6), the book says there are two answers, "-" and "the". However, for (7), there is only one answer, "-". What's the difference? To me, both of the "rice" and "hot water" here are not "previously mentioned" or "specific". Why can you put "the" to "rice", but not to "hot water"?

    Question 2: I put "the" for (8) because this "chicken" is "previously mentioned". But the book says no article is required here. Why?

    Question 3: I know that "a second" means "another" in the last sentence. Would the meaning change if I say "the second pot" instead of "a second pot" here?

    Thank you so much.


  2. probus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "the" or no "the"

    In (6), if you said the rice it would mean the rice she had bought specifically for the occasion. Without the article it could have been any rice. The text has already told us that she bought specific things for the occasion.

    For (8) I think your book is wrong. My reasoning is the same us above, The passage describes Mrs Midori's preparations for her dinner party. It tells us that she bought chicken. Therefore, when the passage subsequently refers to chicken, it means that chicken, the chicken she bought,

    If you said the second pot your sentence would become unnatural because the passage has already stated that there were many dishes being prepared. Therefore there must have been many other pots, and the indicates one specific alternative, as I said above,
    Last edited by probus; 06-May-2013 at 07:46.

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    #3

    Re: "the" or no "the"

    Thank you for your reply. But I still don't understand very well about my Question1.

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    In (6), if you said the rice it would mean the rice she had bought specifically for the occasion. Without the article it could have been any rice. The text has already told us that she bought specific things for the occasion.
    Do you mean it is incorrect to omit "the" for (6) because the "chicken" is specific here? The book says both "the" and "- (no article)" are correct (What I wrote in the first post in blue is the correct answers according to the book), and that's where I don't understand. Do you think the book is wrong here too?
    The text doesn't say she bought the rice for the occasion. (Most Japanese houses are usually stocked with plenty of rice, if this could be of any help.)

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "the" or no "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    For (8) I think your book is wrong. My reasoning is the same us above, The passage describes Mrs Midori's preparations for her dinner party. It tells us that she bought chicken. Therefore, when the passage subsequently refers to chicken, it means that chicken, the chicken she bought,
    It depends whether all the chicken she bought was in the chicken. If so, then 'the' is fine; if not, it isn't.

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    #5

    Re: "the" or no "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    It depends whether all the chicken she bought was in the chicken. If so, then 'the' is fine; if not, it isn't.
    You can't tell from the text whether all the chicken she bought was in the chicken, can you?

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    #6

    Re: "the" or no "the"

    Quote Originally Posted by pinkie9 View Post
    You can't tell from the text whether all the chicken she bought was in the chicken, can you?
    The speaker knows, but we don't if the articles have been taken out.

    This is one reason exercises such as this are often unsatisfactory. Instead of being encouraged to produce language to talk/write about what they want or need to talk/write about, they are asked to guess whata particular speaker/writer had in the back of his/her mind.

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