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  1. Member
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    #1

    Can I help you? said the voice.

    Hi folks,
    Could anyone explain to me why the definite article is used for the first voice? Its from A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci.
    They got out and looked around.
    See anyone? asked Blum.
    No. No cars, either, but the garage might be around back.
    Can I help you? said the voice.
    They turned to look around for the person.
    Can I help you? said the voice again.

    Thanks as always,
    emp0608

  2. Moderator
    Interested in Language
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    #2

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    It's referring to a voice which has been mentioned previously.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Member
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    #3

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    It hasn't been mentioned previously. That's why I find the use of the definite article very unusual.

    Here's a longer quote:
    The home was large, new, and contemporary in design, with lots of metal and glass.
    Looks like something youd see a tech mogul build in Palo Alto, commented Pine as she slowed the SUV and pulled to a stop in front of the house.
    They got out and looked around.
    See anyone? asked Blum.
    No. No cars, either, but the garage might be around back.
    Can I help you? said the voice.
    They turned to look around for the person.
    Can I help you? said the voice again.
    The sound seemed to be coming from the front door.
    They must have one of those video security systems, said Pine. They stepped up to the front door and Pine held up her badge.

  4. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #4

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    We use it for speech coming from a machine.

  5. VIP Member
    Retired English Teacher
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    #5

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    When they first heard the voice, they did not know the origin. I think the definite article is inappropriate there.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

  6. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    Yes, it is odd. The writer apparently wants to make reference to the voice as if the reader already knows the identity of the voice. It's hard to guess why he'd want to do that, but that is what he wanted to do. Perhaps later context might shed some light on that decision.

  7. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #7

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    They use it for person too, so I guess they are thinking of it as unique.

  8. teechar's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    One more correction.
    Quote Originally Posted by emp0608 View Post
    “No. No cars, either, but the garage might be around the back.”

  9. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    I believe "around/round back" is OK in AmE.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  10. teechar's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Can I help you? said the voice.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I believe "around/round back" is OK in AmE.
    That's a new one to me. Thanks for clarifying it. I would certainly never say it without "the".

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