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    #1

    A/The man in a cap is singing.

    Let’s suppose there are an interviewer and an interviewee.
    Each of them is looking at a picture holding it in his/her hands.
    Two pictures are exactly the same, and in the picture(s),
    there are five people doing different things and a person in a cap is singing.

    The interviewee has to describe what each person in the picture is doing.
    How should I start a sentence?
    A man in a cap is singing.” or “The man in a cap is singing.” ?

    I thought the latter is correct because the interviewer and the interviewee look at the same picture
    and there is only one person who’s wearing a cap.
    Would you please tell me which is correct and why?
    I’m confused about how to use a and the.

    Thanks.

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    #2

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    Let’s suppose there are an interviewer and an interviewee.
    Each of them is looking at a picture while holding it in his/her hands.
    The two pictures are exactly the same, and in the picture(s),
    there are five people doing different things and a person in wearing a cap is singing.

    The interviewee has to describe what each person in the picture is doing.
    How should I start a the sentence?
    Since the identity of the man was not known and was being referred to for the first time, I would use the indefinite article "a".
    I am not a teacher.

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    I think 'the' can be used in 'There are five people, and the man in a cap is singing.'
    I am not a teacher.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    There are two possible ways of describing it (sticking to your word order).

    The man in the cap is singing.
    A man in a cap is singing.

    However, I would say that the first is a better answer given that the interviewee has been asked to describe what each person is doing. On the assumption that all those people are different in some way, they are each the only example of their "type" in the picture, so the definite article is appropriate.

    This is how I would describe an entire (imagined) scene:

    The picture shows a man in a cap, a woman in a dress, a girl in jeans, a boy in pyjamas and a old man with a walking stick.
    The man in the cap is singing.
    The woman in the dress is looking at her phone.
    The girl in jeans is playing with a toy car.
    The boy in pyjamas is reading a book.
    The old man with the walking stick is reading a newspaper.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #5

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    Before I read any answers, and if I had been the first responder, I would have said that either could be used and that I had no preference.

    Ted and Matthew presented opposite opinions and ems argued convincingly for 'the'.

    On reflection, I agree with them, but cannot say Ted is wrong.

    popri, a better title would have been A/The man in a cap is singing. (Edit: I've changed it.)
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 09-Jul-2016 at 08:49.

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    #6

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    Thank you so much, y’all.
    I understand now.
    It’s sort of funny, but I feel relieved when even native speakers have different opinions about usage of article and definite article.
    No wonder I can’t understand them.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    Quote Originally Posted by popri View Post
    Thank you so much, y’all. everyone. (Note that "y'all" is OK in spoken American English but not on this forum.)
    I understand now.
    It’s sort of funny, but I feel relieved when even native speakers have different opinions about the usage of indefinite articles and definite articles (or "... of the indefinite article and the definite article").
    No wonder I can’t understand them.
    See above.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    A native-level use of articles is immensely difficult to achieve.

    One consolation is that incorrect/unnatural use rarely impedes communication.

  5. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    Quote Originally Posted by popri View Post
    even native speakers have different opinions about usage of article and definite article.
    Please note that the first two respondents, who have opposite opinions, are not native speakers.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #10

    Re: How should I use a/the in this case?

    I have to ask you the same question, but I’ve found the exact situation.
    Would you please check two sites written below and answer my question again?
    I’d like to know whether native speakers’ opinions would change or not.

    1. Picture Sample: http://www.eiken.or.jp/eiken/exam/vi...f/grade_p2.pdf
    2. Oral Test example: http://www.eiken.or.jp/eiken/exam/virtual/grade_p2/

    When it comes to 2., You can see and hear what the interviewer says
    when you click the start button and click the 10th line of the list shown at the left side on the next screen.
    Please ignore model examples of the interviewee because these tests are for beginners.

    Do you still have the same explanation or other interpretations?
    Thank you

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