The speaker is reporting what he told "him" to a third person. If the speaker had named the repair to the "him" in the sentence, then both of these sentences make sense and have the same meaning.
Student or Learner
a. I told him that in order to get a certain repair done on his car, he had to go to John.
b. I told him that in order to get a specific repair done on his car, he had to go to John.
Do these sentences mean the same?
I think in (a) the speaker does have one single specific repair in mind. He knows exactly what reapir has to be done.
I am not sure (b) could replace (a). Here one might be thinking about 'any specific repair'.
We can say 'any specific repair' but we can't say 'any certain repair'!!! I just noticed that.
But could 'specific' replace 'certain' in the case of the example sentences?
In my view, the use of "certain" or "specific", regardless of the article, refers to a particular repair. One would not use those words if the advice were simply to "have the car fixed" or "check the transmission. It would refer to something like a valvuloplasty (joke intended) as a particular repair.
Thank you very much Billmcd and MikeNewYork,
The question is whether in (a) and (b) the intended meaning is:
1. I told him to go to John for THAT specific repair. (I know what that repair is and I know that for that repair he has to go to John.)
2. I told him to go to John any time he wants a repair done on his car.
3. I told him to go to John now that he needs to have a repair done on his car. (I might not even know what repair he needs done...)
I have the feeling that your replies are not exactly the same. I might be wrong of course.
I know that English is not necessarily spoken in the same way all over the English-speaking world.
Consider the following: (1) “Joe told me that his fuel pump is leaking and wanted to know if I knew where to get it repaired or replaced. I told him that in order to get the specific/certain repair of a fuel pump he had to see John at Ace Auto.” (2) “Joe told me that something is wrong with his fuel consumption, but he doesn’t know where to have it looked at. I told him that maybe he needs just a tune-up, but if he needs a specific/certain repair, he had to see John at Ace Auto.”
Last edited by billmcd; 26-May-2013 at 02:47.