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    #1

    Article usage with "context"

    Hello! Could you help me to clarify the usage of articles with the word "context"? Suppose X asks Y, "What does the word "run" mean?", and Y replies,

    a) "I can't tell without context"/"I need context"/"It depends on context". The zero article = any/some context or context in general.

    b) "I can't tell without a context"/"I need a context". The indefinite article = any particular context. "It depends on a context" sounds wrong to me.

    c) "I can't tell without the context"/"I need the context"/"It depends on the context". The definite article = "I'd like you to articulate that unspoken particular context which, I suppose, you hold in your mind."

    Do you think all variants work here?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 20-Dec-2019 at 13:23.

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    #2

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Hello! Could you help me to clarify the usage of articles with the word "context"? Suppose X asks Y, "What does the word "run" mean?", and Y replies,

    a) "I can't tell without context"/"I need context"/"It depends on context". The zero article = any/some context or context in general.

    b) "I can't tell without a context"/"I need a context". The indefinite article = any particular context. "It depends on a context" sounds wrong to me. It is. "Context" is uncountable in this context.

    c) "I can't tell without the context"/"I need the context"/"It depends on the context". The definite article = "I'd like you to articulate that unspoken particular context which, I suppose, you hold in your mind."

    Do you think all variants work here?
    No. See above.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    What's wrong with "It depends on context"?
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    #4

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    Thank you, GoesStation!

    "Context" is uncountable in this context.
    Cambridge Dictionary considers "context" as a countable noun when it's used as, "the text or speech that comes immediately before and after a particular phrase or piece of text and that influence how it is used and what it means", i.e. surrounding words.

    I don't understand why "a context" in b) can't be used as any particular text or speech that comes immediately before and after "run".

    What's wrong with "It depends on context"?
    I second this question.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 20-Dec-2019 at 16:11.

  5. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Thank you, GoesStation!



    Cambridge Dictionary considers "context" as a countable noun when it's used as, "the text or speech that comes immediately before and after a particular phrase or piece of text and that influence how it is used and what it means", i.e. surrounding words.

    I don't understand why "a context" in b) can't be used as any particular text or speech that comes immediately before and after "run".

    You're entitled to your opinion. However, I disagree. If you have been reading my posts you might have seen me use the word context (I often have), but never a context.

    You seem to have made up your mind already. So why bother asking the question? And what's the point of arguing?
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    #6

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    You can use context as a countable noun, but only in an appropriate context.
    I am not a teacher.

  7. Member
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    #7

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    You're entitled to your opinion.
    What opinion are you talking about? I said I didn't understand why the countable meaning from Cambridge Dictionary weren't appropriate in b). It's hard for me to understand because in my native language "context" would be countable in a), b) and c).
    Last edited by Alexey86; 20-Dec-2019 at 21:26.

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    #8

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    You can use context as a countable noun ....
    There are, however, many contexts in which you can't. This isn't one of them.
    I am not a teacher.

  9. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    What opinion are you talking about? I said I don't understand why the countable meaning from the Cambridge Dictionary isn't appropriate in b). It's hard for me to understand because in my native language "context" would be countable in a), b) and c).
    In my opinion, that's the problem. We're talking about English usage.

    I'm not going to argue with the Cambridge Dictionary, but I don't consult it.

    I have given my opinion. You are free to disagree.
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  10. Member
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    #10

    Re: Article usage with "context"

    I have given my opinion. You are free to disagree.
    I'm not arguing with you or GoesStation. All I'm interested in is to understand why "context" is only uncountable in my examples because I want to base my learning process on understanding not just memorization. Sometimes the count/non-count distinction is easy to see. For example, "a tea" (a cup of tea) vs "tea" (liquid substance) or "a government" (a group of people ruling a country) vs "government" (activities involving in controlling a country). Why can't I say, "I need a context" meaning "I need any particular context"?

    I said I don't understand why the countable meaning from the Cambridge Dictionary isn't appropriate
    Thank you. I see your point here. I thought we can use backshift in reported speech even when talking about things that are still true.

    from the Cambridge Dictionary
    I see no "the" in the name of the dictionary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambri...27s_Dictionary
    Last edited by Alexey86; 20-Dec-2019 at 23:46.

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