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    #1

    Question A/An vs. The

    Hi, I have some problems determining if I have to use indefinite articles or not. For example I did some exercises and I don't understand why I have to use "the" in the following sentence: "A child ran across THE street." But in a similar sentence, I have to use "a": "A man and a child were going along a dusty road." Does "dusty" make a difference there? If I skip that, do I have to say: "A man and a child were going along the road."? From my understanding it would also be correct to say: "A child ran across a street.", since the street was never mentioned before and there are many streets in the world a child could cross. But not according to my exercises.

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    #2

    Re: A/An vs. The

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnWanderer View Post
    Hi, I have some problems determining if I have to use indefinite articles or not. For example I did some exercises and I don't understand why I have to use "the" in the following sentence: "A child ran across THE street." But in a similar sentence, I have to use "a": "A man and a child were going along a dusty road." Does "dusty" make a difference there (No)? If I skip that, do I have to say: "A man and a child were going along the road." (No)? From my understanding it would also be correct to say: "A child ran across a street.", since the street was never mentioned before and there are many streets in the world a child could cross. But not according to my exercises.
    Either "the", or "a" could be used in the sentence about the street. The general rule is "the" is used when there is a specific street, and "a" is used when there could have been any street. If you write, "A child ran across the street", you are not giving much information - I don't know which street. If you write, "A child ran across a street", I know that some child ran across some street somewhere (Still, not much information but I don't have to wonder about which street). If you are helping the police who are investigating an accident and say, "I was standing on Main Street and saw a child run across the street", I may assume that the child ran across Main Street, although you could have been in such a position so that you could also see West Street. An experienced policeman would then ask, "Which street did the child run across?". Imagine the opening lines of a novel being, "A man and a child were going along a dusty road". This would be the correct way to write this since there has been no information about the road. The information about the road could be provided after the line, "A man and a child were going along the dusty road" - "A man and a child were going along the dusty road, the same road traveled by thousands before them". Now that the road is identified, "the" can be used.

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