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  1. Member
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Hong Kong
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jan 2012
    • Posts: 358

    Why is 'the' used like this ?

    I often come across sentences/phrases such as:

    - relations between words within the sentence
    - medium of instruction in the ESL classroom
    - Use of humour in the science classroom

    The definite article 'the' is often employed to refer to specific entity. In the above examples (and many more out there I'm sure), the use seems to be a generic one. I am quite sure they aren't referring to a specific thing.
    What are the differences then if I rewrite them in the following ways, all of which expressing non-specific referents?

    - relations between words within a sentence / relations between words within sentences
    - medium of instruction in an ESL classroom / ....... ESL classrooms
    - ........ in a science classroom / ....... science classrooms

    Thanks a billion!

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    VIP Member
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      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,982

    Re: Why is 'the' used like this ?

    Those could all work, but it would be easier if you gave us full sentences. All three of your phrases could refer to specific things.


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