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  1. #21
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    This is the book I want to give you (I've told you yesterday about it)
    I told you yesterday, of course.

    To Jutfrank: I need some time to gather my thoughts.
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  2. #22
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I'm certainly not contradicting myself. Please point out where you think I'm doing that.
    Sorry Frank! I readily admit it was a hasty conclusion and I just misunderstood you. I really don’t want to dig into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    This is the second time I'm reading Hamlet.
    This is for the second time I'm reading Hamlet.


    See? The second is ungrammatical. Why do you think that is?
    This is my way of understanding:
    1) This is for (whom?) you. (correct, makes sense)
    2) This is for (what?) a second time I’m reading Hamlet. (senseless, incorrect)
    3) This is for (what?) the second time I’m reading Hamlet. (senseless, incorrect)
    4) This is (what?) the second time I’m reading Hamlet (I told you I was going to read it twice). (makes sense and correct)
    5) This is (what?) a second time I’m reading Hamlet (It’s a new fact to you). (makes sense to me but incorrect).

    You say (5) is wrong because “When you say a second time, there is an omitted preposition for, so that a second time = for a second time, in the adverbial sense of 'again'."
    I don’t understand why the same logic doesn’t work in the case of this is the second time? Isn’t for omitted there either?

    This is a second time… = This is (for) a second time… = wrong
    This is the second time… = This is (for) the second time = correct
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  3. #23
    jutfrank's Avatar
    jutfrank is offline VIP Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Sorry Frank! I readily admit it was a hasty conclusion and I just misunderstood you. I really don’t want to dig into it.
    Okay, no bother.

    You say (5) is wrong because “When you say a second time, there is an omitted preposition for, so that a second time = for a second time, in the adverbial sense of 'again'."
    Yes, you've understood me. What I'm saying here is just one way of explaining things. There are other ways to do it too.

    I don’t understand why the same logic doesn’t work in the case of this is the second time? Isn’t for omitted there either?
    No, it isn't. That's the difference. The phrase the second time is not adverbial there. It's just a noun phrase. It isn't modifying reading Hamlet. It's a subject complement.

    Let's simplify the sentence a bit.

    1) This is the second time.

    This sentence is equative. It's like saying X is Y, where X and Y are identical things. There's no modification, only equation.

    2) I succeeded the second time.

    Unlike sentence 1, the exact same phrase here is used adverbially, modifying succeeded. The phrase looks the same but the grammar is very different. There's no omitted preposition for that can help understand the adverbial use of the phrase, but you could understand there to be an omitted on in some way (although it wouldn't be natural), because the meaning of the phrase is something like 'on my second attempt' or 'on the second occasion'.

    3) I'm reading Hamlet the second time.

    Here, the same phrase is used adverbially again, in modification of reading Hamlet, but the meaning is different again, and this time, you can understand an omitted for, because the phrase basically means 'again'. The sentence places this particular reading in sequence of possible readings: This one comes between the first and third reading.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 10-Apr-2021 at 19:19.

  4. #24
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    3) I'm reading Hamlet the second time.
    Here, the same phrase is used adverbially again, in modification of reading Hamlet, but the meaning is different again, and this time, you can understand an omitted for, because the phrase basically means 'again'. The sentence places this particular reading in sequence of possible readings: This one comes between the first and third reading.

    That's the point I got stuck. You say the implied for in the adverbial a second time is the reason This is a second time is incorrect.
    Now, the second time in I'm reading Hamlet the second time is also adverbial, right? So we've come to this:

    (a) I'm reading Hamlet the second time = (b) I'm reading Hamlet for the second time = (c) This is the second time I'm reading Hamlet.

    Since these are equal, the preposition is implied but omitted in (a) and (c). So, its adverbial nature and omitted for doesn't make (c) incorrect. But the same adverbial nature and omitted for doesn't allow for this is a second time:

    (a1) I'm reading Hamlet a second time = (b1) I'm reading Hamlet for a second time = (c1) This is a second time I'm reading Hamlet.

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  5. #25
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    That's the point I got stuck. You say the implied for in the adverbial a second time is the reason This is a second time is incorrect.
    That was just a way of trying to help you understand it. It obviously backfired so I suggest you forget about it.

    I did say way back in post #4 that you need to separate out the different threads if you want to try and answer all your questions. We're trying to deal with difference in grammatical function (modifier/complement) and difference in meaning, and difference in definiteness (a/the) all at the same time.

  6. #26
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    The possibility now occurs to me that what you're really asking about here is why we use definite articles, not indefinite ones, in superlative sentences. Am I right, do you think?

    *This is a first time I've seen this film.
    *He is a best friend a man can have.
    *That's a last time I try to help you.


    Do you think your questioning really might be getting at why those are wrong? Is this really about articles/reference, and not really about the phrase a second time at all?

  7. #27
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    The possibility now occurs to me that what you're really asking about here is why we use definite articles, not indefinite ones, in superlative sentences. Am I right, do you think?

    *This is a first time I've seen this film.
    *He is a best friend a man can have.
    *That's a last time I try to help you.


    Do you think your questioning really might be getting at why those are wrong? Is this really about articles/reference, and not really about the phrase a second time at all?
    That's a very interesting but different topic. Now I only want to understand the reason this is the second/third time is correct while this is a second/third time isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    That was just a way of trying to help you understand it. It obviously backfired so I suggest you forget about it.

    I did say way back in post #4 that you need to separate out the different threads if you want to try and answer all your questions. We're trying to deal with difference in grammatical function (modifier/complement) and difference in meaning, and difference in definiteness (a/the) all at the same time.
    I don't know if I have them but I certainly don't feel difficulties with meaning and definiteness (see #5). The question can be boiled down to this:

    (a) I'm reading Hamlet the second time = (b) I'm reading Hamlet for the second time = (c) This is the second time I'm reading Hamlet.
    (a1) I'm reading Hamlet a second time = (b1) I'm reading Hamlet for a second time = (c1) This is a second time I'm reading Hamlet.


    Why is it so?
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  8. #28
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Now I only want to understand the reason this is the second/third time is correct while this is a second/third time isn't.
    Okay, so I think I'm right that you are actually asking about superlatives. Think of those sentences as superlatives.

    I remember you mentioned the 'uniqueness' explanation in one of our conversations last year, so I'm sure you're aware of it. It's basically the same deal here, and although I do have some reservations about the explanantory power of the uniqueness rule, I hope it might work effectively for you in this case. There's only one second time, right? In any given ordinal sequence, there can only be one first time, one second time, one third time, etc. And the demonstrative This works to show very clearly that there's specific reference going on.

    If you say This is a second time, it's like you're saying This is an instance of a second time, which, without some pretty forceful contextualising, doesn't make sense. Or at least is certainly not what you mean. So with this view, the answer to why your sentence is incorrect is because it doesn't make sense and/or it isn't what you mean. Does that work?
    Last edited by jutfrank; 10-Apr-2021 at 23:13.

  9. #29
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Okay, so I think I'm right that you are actually asking about superlatives. Think of those sentences as superlatives. Good.
    OK, you know best.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    There's only one second time, right?... And the demonstrative This works to show very clearly that there's specific reference going on.
    Right.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    So with this view, the answer to why your sentence is incorrect is because it doesn't make sense and/or it isn't what you mean. Does that work?
    I wish it could but... How would you explain this (from Ludwig Guru):
    Click image for larger version. 

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    There's only one second act/version/wave/career, right? And the demonstrative This works to show very clearly that there's specific reference going on (sorry for plagiarism). These examples shouldn't make sense, given your very clear explanation above. Or, should they?
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  10. #30
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Charlie Bernstein is offline VIP Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Sorry Frank! I readily admit it was a hasty conclusion and I just misunderstood you. I really don’t want to dig into it.

    This is my way of understanding:
    1) This is for (whom?) you. (correct, makes sense)
    2) This is for (what?) a second time I’m reading Hamlet. (senseless, incorrect)
    3) This is for (what?) the second time I’m reading Hamlet. (senseless, incorrect)
    4) This is (what?) the second time I’m reading Hamlet (I told you I was going to read it twice). (makes sense and correct)

    It doesn't matter whether you told us or not. It's correct either way.

    5) This is (what?) a second time I’m reading Hamlet (It’s a new fact to you). (makes sense to me but incorrect).

    Personally, I don't think 5 is wrong, exactly, just not very natural. It is, indeed, a second time, but the second is better — maybe because it's obvious which time you're talking about: the second.

    You say (5) is wrong because “When you say a second time, there is an omitted preposition for, so that a second time = for a second time, in the adverbial sense of 'again'."

    For isn't omitted. It would be wrong to add it. As I said above, II wouldn't use for there at all.


    It works here: I'm reading Hamlet for the second time.

    But not here: I'm reading Hamlet a second time.


    I don’t understand why the same logic doesn’t work in the case of this is the second time? Isn’t for omitted there either?

    For would be wrong there. It might just be idiomatic. I hope so. I can't think of a logical reason. Jut might be able to.


    This is a second time… = This is (for) a second time… = wrong
    This is the second time… = This is (for) the second time = correct
    I can see how this takes some sorting out.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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