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    • Join Date: Aug 2005
    • Posts: 196

    no, not, a, an ?

    I don't know why there is no "a" in :

    1) There's no such thing...

    Shouldn't it be like "There's no such A thing..." ? We normally say "Such a thing..." or "There is such a thing..." don't we ?

    2) I'm only A human or I'm only human...

    Here's a sentence from Longman Dictionary of Contep. Eng. :

    "He's not human, he's an empty space disguised as a human" (in the first part there's no "a", in the second one, on the contrary.
    "To be treated as a human..."


  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: no, not, a, an ?

    In [1a], "a" is a determiner and it modifies the noun "thing".

    [1a] There is not such a thing.

    "not" is an adverb. It modifies the verb "is". Below, in [1b], "no" functions as a determiner. It modifies the noun "thing",

    [1b] There is no such thing.

    In English, there can be only one determiner per noun, which is why [1c] is incorrect. There are too many determiners here,

    [c] *There is no such a thing.


    The word "human" can function as a noun or as an adjective. In our example [2a] below, "human" functions as a noun; it's synonymous with a person (who is a member of the genus Homo sapien), whereas in [2b] "human" functions as an adjective, expressing having human attributes.

    [2a] I'm only a human. <noun, synonymous with a person>
    [2b] I'm only human. <adjective, having human attributes>

    EX: He's not human [i.e., adjective: he doesn't have human attributes), he's an empty space disguised as a human [i.e., noun, a person who is a member of the genus Homo sapien.

    EX: To be treated as a human [as a person] ...


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