# Thread: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

1. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by GeneD
Hello, Alexey. I have read only the previous page of this long thread of yours and don't know all the details of the discussion, so I hope you won't judge me too hard if what I'm going to say was already said.

The examples in your quote are really intriguing for me as a learner. So naturally, just like you, I started to look for some explanation and I have a guess, though I don't know whether it's plausible. Could it be (I'm addressing this to the native speakers) that 'on a second floor' means in the contexts ' on another floor'

Good idea, but no, definitely not.

and the writer didn't mean to explain to the readers the exact location of the floor in the building
? Like 'a couple of minutes' doesn't necessarily mean exactly two minutes. I guess that if the writer had wanted to say definitely what the floor was, they should have used the definite article. If they didn't, then they probably didn't want to do this.

In that case, we'd say something like "another floor" or "a different floor" or "a separate floor."

Just to clarify my thought... It seems to me that in the 1 and 3 examples the meaning of 'second' is 'another', while in the 2 the author wanted to convey the idea that the clinic was not particularly suitable for the patients because they should get over the stairs, but what exactly the floor was was probably unimportant for the writer. That could be the third or even fourth floor... That's only a guess.

And a good one!

I don't know whether it's plausible and would be grateful if the others told me if it is or not.
When you're talking about a particular second floor, it's the. When you're talking about a generalized second floor, it's a. The only reason we're cautioning against a is that the first is much more likely than the second. We don't often use second floor in a generalized sense, unless it's an adjective phrase, like a second-floor apartment. So on first glance, a just looks strange.

But Alexey is right. Both are possible, and a is natural in the right context.

2. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Alexey86
I've found such examples:

1. Fifty workers and customers huddled for safety on a second floor as it was raked with bullets.
https://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/16/w...ists-rise.html

2. The clinic is not more than a warren of rooms on a second floor that is reached only by stairs, making it a daunting climb for weakened patients.
https://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/18/w...nt-denial.html

3. He said police first photographed him for a biometrics database, took him down a long cinderblock hallway on a second floor, and handcuffed him to a bench bolted to the floor.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...are-black-site
Excellent examples. You can definitely work with those. I think they illustrate my explanation about instantiations very well. Each second floor is one instance of a second floor. You cannot interpret them to mean that each building has multiple second floors.

Using the definite article would be quite inappropriate in these contexts as the building in question has not been specified. You can't refer to 'the' second floor if you don't know which building you're talking about.

I really prefer the word explanation to exception.
Me too.

3. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

But you wouldn't say "He's on a fifth floor", right, Frank? Or would you? From what I gathered reading GS's, Piscean's and Ems's replies, it's not natural, is it? For instance, here Ems said:

Originally Posted by emsr2d2
And my answer would be "He's on the second floor". A man can only be in one place at one time. Your question does not need to elicit the information that we're talking about the building on the right because that's where we can see him. That building has only one second floor.
Speaking about levels (yes, I've read the entire thread this time ) I understand Alexey's trouble with understanding Frank's point about instantiations because it's foreign for me too. And I find 'on the fifth floor' example very similar to 'at a 0-18-month level'. And even if there are some differences between the examples, as Piscean said, you wouldn't say 'He's at an age of 5', would you? The notion 'age' is as imprecise as 'level', right? If you use in one example 'a' and in a similar one 'the', then there is a contradiction.

But who said a language must be logical? Any language is full of contradictions and there are no explanations for everything in it. I think you, Alexey, собаку съел на артиклях, but can you explain this highly illogical from the contemporary language view expression -
собаку съел на чем-либо?

Why are there contradicting ways of expression? Isn't it because we all see things a little differently and convey our ideas differently?

I adore this brilliant thread but I'm afraid I'm more confused now than before I read it. But I'm completely fine with that. The brain just needs a little of time to accomodate new information - contradictory or not. I hope so, at least.

4. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

I always wondered why the expression 'an all-time high' goes with the indefinite article, and Frank's point of view seems to explain it perfectly! There are many peaks like this because everyone or everything has their own all-time high. Is that right?

5. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by GeneD
I always wondered why the expression 'an old-time high' goes with the indefinite article, and Frank's point of view seems to explain it perfectly! There are many peaks like this because everyone or everything has their own all-time high. Is that right?

What's an 'old-time high'? Do you mean an 'all-time high'?

6. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by GeneD
I always wondered why the expression 'an old all-time high' goes with the indefinite article ….
It follows the usual pattern: of all possible highs, this one is an instance of a maximum. There could be a higher one tomorrow, but this is the highest so far.

7. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by jutfrank
What's an 'old-time high'? Do you mean an 'all-time high'?
Yes, it was 'all-time high', of course. How I could type 'old' is an enigma for me.

8. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by GoesStation
It follows the usual pattern: of all possible highs, this one is an instance of a maximum. There could be a higher one tomorrow, but this is the highest so far.
I always saw it in a different way. Like when we say that someone is 'the best' where we (I hope not only I) think that there is only one best. I thought there is only one best when he/she is in their prime, or, in other words, their 'all-time high'. But Frank's explanation (and yours now, and maybe Charlie's) shows that the issue can be seen the other way round: there are many 'bests' and 'all-time highs'.

9. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by GeneD
But who said a language must be logical? Any language is full of contradictions and there are no explanations for everything in it. I think you, Alexey, собаку съел на артиклях, but can you explain this highly illogical from the contemporary language view expression - собаку съел на чем-либо?
Unlike articles, idioms don't require explanations to use them properly. All you need is to remember their meanings, which won't help you with articles. Maybe some learners develop a gut feeling for article use and do without explicit explanations. Well, I'm not one of them.

Originally Posted by jutfrank
Using the definite article would be quite inappropriate in these contexts as the building in question has not been specified. You can't refer to 'the' second floor if you don't know which building you're talking about.
This is definitely true for (2). But in (1) and (3) the building is known:

(1) "Luckily it was mostly beer 6,000 cans of it -- that was shot up Sunday. But the liquor distributor in Baghdad was hit with a full-scale assault:
several cars and a minivan full of masked men with guns and grenades sprayed the building with hundreds of rounds.
Fifty workers and customers huddled for safety on a second floor as it was raked with bullets."

(3) The article's title is 'Chicago’s Homan Square 'black site': surveillance, military-style vehicles and a metal cage.' It starts with
''This building (picture below) looks innocent enough. But those familiar with the secretive interrogation and holding facility describe a shocking display of police abuses"
...
Brian Jacob Church was taken to Homan Square after police picked him up in 2012 on terrorism charges he beat at trial.
He said police first photographed him for a biometrics database, took him down a long cinderblock hallway on a second floor, and handcuffed him to a bench bolted to the floor."

10. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Alexey86
Maybe some learners develop a gut feeling for article use and do without explicit explanations.
I'm afraid that's the only way to completely master them. You can get most of the way by finding patterns and learning rules; the rest of the journey has to be on foot.

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