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

    I'm reading Hamlet for a/second time.

    I can use either a or the depending on the context. I would use a if the hearer weren't aware of that fact or didn't know exactly how many time I was planning to read Hamlet.

    But I couldn't find any examples of this is a second time. So it seems This is a second time I'm reading Hamlet would be incorrect. Why?
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I couldn't find any examples of this is a second time. So it seems This is a second time I'm reading Hamlet would be incorrect. Why?
    Right. Neither of those are correct.

    You have to think of the phrase (for) a second time as a complete adverbial phrase, basically meaning 'again'. Don't think of a second time as an independent noun phrase.

    Even though the preposition for in the phrase for a second time can be omitted, it's still 'there' in a manner of speaking, when it is:

    I'm reading Hamlet for a second time.
    I'm reading Hamlet a second time.


    These are the same. The difference is only that the preposition is unarticulated in the latter.

    If you insert the omitted preposition in your phrases, you'll see why they're incorrect:

    *This is for a second time I'm reading Hamlet.

  3. #3
    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 reading Hamlet for a second time.
    I'm reading Hamlet a second time.


    These are the same. The difference is only that the preposition is unarticulated in the latter.
    Really? I always thought for a/the second time and a/the second time mean different things when used at the end of a sentence:
    He succeeded for the second time
    tells you that he has succeeded twice, while
    He succeeded the second time
    indicates that he failed the first time and has only succeeded once.

    ( https://ell.stackexchange.com/questi...he-second-time )

    Possible context: Suppose I had a very rare, old and fragile book so there was a bunch of people who wanted to read it. But I was ready to give it only several people. At first, I gave it to Bill. John read the book the second time = he was the second man I gave the book (or a second time if the number wasn't specified or was unknown to the hearer).

    But if we start with it, then This is the second time I'm reading Hamlet = I'm reading hamlet for the second time.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 10-Apr-2021 at 13:17.
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  4. #4
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    He succeeded for the second time
    tells you that he has succeeded twice, while
    He succeeded the second time
    indicates that he failed the first time and has only succeeded once.
    Yes, that's all correct. But we're talking about the phrase for a second time, with an indefinite article.

    I think you're perhaps confusing lots of different phrases. To untangle this, first try to separate the definite and indefinite forms (which have different meanings/uses) and then separate by whether it's adverbial or not.

  5. #5
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Yes, that's all correct. But we're talking about the phrase for a second time, with an indefinite article.
    We're talking about the difference between for a second time and for the second time. And it's quite clear:

    He went to the supermarket to buy bread. He went to the supermarket for a second time because he had forgotten the milk.
    He went to the supermarket twice. The first time he bought bread. He went for the second time because he had forgotten the milk.

    ...using "a second time" implies that there could be a third or fourth time that follows the second time.
    (https://forum.wordreference.com/thre...-time.2307136/)

    The same logic can be applied to do smth a second time vs the second time with the meaning I mentioned in the possible context above.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 10-Apr-2021 at 13:16.
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  6. #6
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    ...using "a second time" implies that there could be a third or fourth time that follows the second time.
    (https://forum.wordreference.com/thre...-time.2307136/)

    The same logic can be applied to do smth a second time vs the second time with the difference in meaning from for the/a second time I mentioned above.
    I don't think that's quite right, but fine. So has your question been answered then?

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    Re: This is a/the second time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    We're talking about the difference between for a second time and for the second time. And it's quite clear:

    He went to the supermarket to buy bread. He went to the supermarket for a second time because he had forgotten the milk.
    He went to the supermarket twice. The first time he bought bread. He went for the second time because he had forgotten the milk . . . .
    I don't like for in either.

    The difference between a and the is the same as the difference anywhere else. If we already know he went twice, the is right. If we don't, a is right.
    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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