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    #1

    Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word sun

    The following sentence in italic type is selected from the book called “English Studies Series” written by William F. Hawkins:

    Actually we know of no type of astronomical body in which the conditions can be favourable to life except planets like our own revolving round a sun.

    My question is: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of “the” before the word “sun”?


    You can have a look at the following website for more information:
    http://www.uefap.com/reading/exercise/ess3/jeans.htm

  2. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    He's implying that there are many suns, of which ours is just one example.

    For an astronomer, there are billions of suns.
    For a non-astronomer, there is just one, so we tend to say the Sun.

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    #3

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    He's implying that there are many suns, of which ours is just one example.

    For an astronomer, there are billions of suns.
    For a non-astronomer, there is just one, so we tend to say the Sun.
    Thanks for your explantation. However, what really makes me feel confused about is: here the word "sun" obviously refers to the sun in our solar system (except planets like our own planet - the earth - revolving round the sun). So, again why?

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    #4

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    Quote Originally Posted by rodgers white View Post
    here the word "sun" obviously refers to the sun in our solar system.
    It doesn't.

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    #5

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    It doesn't.
    So, you mean I can say to my students such a sentence: Our earth is revolving round a sun.

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    #6

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    You can. Our earth does revolve around a sun.

    We normally refer to our sun as 'the sun', but we don't' have to. The person who wrote the original sentence was not referring to our sun.

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    #7

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    You can. Our earth does revolve around a sun.

    We normally refer to our sun as 'the sun', but we don't' have to. The person who wrote the original sentence was not referring to our sun.
    Now, my puzzle is: When I say that both sentences are okay, how can I explain this clearly to them if my students ask why ?


    Our earth revolves the sun.
    Maybe I can explain like that: When we are standing in the space within the solar system, this sun is unique.
    So, we call it "the sun".
    Our earth revolves a sun.
    When we are standing in the universe - there are many stars like the sun out there - and looking back at our home planet, we can say: Oh, look, our earth is revolving round a sun, and it's so beautiful!
    Last edited by rodgers white; 05-Mar-2017 at 15:48.

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    #8

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    Quote Originally Posted by rodgers white View Post
    Now, my puzzle is: How can I explain this clearly to my students? I mean that both two sentences are okay.
    It's the normal difference between the definite and indefinite articles. If we think about that thing in the sky that appears to rise in the east and set in the west, then it is 'the sun'. There is only one of it in our everyday lives.

    If we think of it as just one of millions of stars/suns in the universe, then it's 'a star/sun'.

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    #9

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    Quote Originally Posted by rodgers white View Post
    Now, my puzzle is: When I say that both sentences are okay, how can I explain this clearly to them if my students ask why ?
    In simple terms, I'd use the word exemplification, where you're not referring to a thing as we know it, but to a representative example of the particular thing -- whether it be existent or not.

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    #10

    Re: Why does the author use an indefinite article instead of the before the word s

    You can't use "Our earth revolves the sun" or "Our earth revolves a sun". There is a word missing after "revolves" in both.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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