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    #1

    Can we use one/a instead of the?

    Can we use one/a instead of the?

    There was a television in the (one?) corner of the room.
    It is the (a?) custom for the bride's father to pay for the wedding.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    In the first, yes. In fact, I would find "one" much better.
    In the second, it would be much more natural to say "It is customary for the bride's father ..."
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    Thank you very much for your help. I wonder why dictionaries always have constructions such as 'in the corner of the room' and 'It is the custom (for sb) to ...', which seem unreasonable but are idiomatic.
    The only exception I came across is in the LONGMAN DICTIONARY OF COMMON ERRORS:

    It is a custom in Japan to take off your shoes before entering a house.

    Afterthought: Does the phrase 'in Japan' after the word 'custom' cause the use of 'a' instead of 'the'?


  2. Boris Tatarenko's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Thank you very much for your help. I wonder why dictionaries always have constructions such as 'in the corner of the room' and 'It is the custom (for sb) to ...', which seem unreasonable but are idiomatic.
    The only exception I came across is in the LONGMAN DICTIONARY OF COMMON ERRORS:

    It is a custom in Japan to take off your shoes before entering a house.

    Afterthought: Does the phrase 'in Japan' after the word 'custom' cause the use of 'a' instead of 'the'?


    I assume that "a" is used in your example above because there are many other customs in Japan.
    Please, correct all my mistakes. I should know English perfectly and if you show me my mistakes I will achieve my dream a little bit faster. A lot of thanks.

    Not a teacher nor a native speaker.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    I think 'a' should be used as long as there is more than one custom.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #6

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    Thank you so much, Mathew and Boris. Then what you were saying means that 'It is the custom for the bride's father to pay for the wedding' equals 'It is the only custom for the bride's father to pay for the wedding'. Is that so?

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    #7

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    We say 'It is the custom for the bride's father to pay for the wedding', still there are certainly many other customs. But why use 'the custom'? This is where I'm confused.

  4. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    I think 'the' is used because it is referring to the specific custom in that context. It doesn't mean that it is the only custom in the country.

    emsr2d2 is the teacher in this thread. It doesn't mean that she is the only teacher on this forum.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #9

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    Thank you a lot, Mathew. I still don't understand. When we say 'It is the custom (for sb) to do sth', it means '(for sb) to do sth is the custom'. 'the custom' is the predicative without any adverbial. If we say 'emsr2d2 is the teacher in this thread', it is clear in meaning. But if we say 'emsr2d2 is the teacher', this sentence sounds to me a bit strange.

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    #10

    Re: Can we use one/a instead of the?

    Can we draw a conclusion like this:

    It is a custom in this region for the bride's father to pay for the wedding. (When we use 'a custom', the phrase 'in some place' must be added.)
    It is the custom (=It is customary) (in this region) for the bride's father to pay for the wedding. (Whether to use 'in this region' is optional.)


    I've come to think that 'the custom' is used like an adjective meaning 'customary'. But are there any other 'the + noun' structures used as adjectives?
    Last edited by joham; 13-Aug-2016 at 03:16.

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