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    #1

    A Sofa

    Hi.


    I would normally presume there were more than just one sofa there as I read "a sofa" and the rest of the passage. But this time somehow I cast doubt on it. There could be more than one, there could be just one couch in the apartment. Is this what you feel as you read this, too?
    As the tears streamed down Elizabeth's face, both Steven and Billie slipped their arms around her and steered her into the apartment.


    Elizabeth collapsed onto a sofa. Steven sat beside her, resting one arm along the back of the couch.
    Thanks in advance.

    Hiro
    Last edited by HSS; 06-Oct-2007 at 03:26. Reason: "was more than just one" >>> "were more than just one"


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    #2

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by HSS View Post
    Hi.

    I would normally presume there was more than just one sofa there as I read "a sofa" and the rest of the passage. But this time somehow I cast doubt on it. There could be more than one, there could be just one couch in the apartment. Is this what you feel as you read this, too?
    As the tears streamed down Elizabeth's face, both Steven and Billie slipped their arms around her and steered her into the apartment.

    Elizabeth collapsed onto a sofa. Steven sat beside her, resting one arm along the back of the couch.
    Thanks in advance.

    Hiro
    I suppose there could be more than one sofa in the room. Couch and sofa mean the same thing. The author uses couch in the second line to avoid repeating sofa.

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    #3

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by Naamplao View Post
    I suppose there could be more than one sofa in the room. Couch and sofa mean the same thing. The author uses couch in the second line to avoid repeating sofa.
    Yes, I knew they mean the same. Anyhow, couldn't there be any possibility at all that there could be only one couch. Would you always say "the sofa" if there were only one?

    Hiro

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    #4

    Re: A Sofa

    I would have expected "the" in that passage was well, but I think the point is that it wasn't important which piece of furniture poor Elizabeth collapsed on - it was the closest one, which happened to be a sofa instead of a chair.


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    #5

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I would have expected "the" in that passage was well, but I think the point is that it wasn't important which piece of furniture poor Elizabeth collapsed on - it was the closest one, which happened to be a sofa instead of a chair.
    It doesn't seem to be a crucial point to the story. Unless I am missing something by seeing only a few sentences.


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    #6

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by HSS View Post
    Hi.

    Elizabeth collapsed onto a sofa. Steven sat beside her, resting one arm along the back of the couch.
    Since Steven sits beside her, presumably he is on the same piece of furniture, and the author is just being over-careful not to use the same word in two subsequent sentences. Sofa and couch are synonymous.

    It would have been much better to have written Steven sat beside her, resting one arm along the back of it.


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    #7

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglika View Post
    Since Steven sits beside her, presumably he is on the same piece of furniture, and the author is just being over-careful not to use the same word in two subsequent sentences. Sofa and couch are synonymous.

    It would have been much better to have written Steven sat beside her, resting one arm along the back of it.
    Personally I like the original writing better than your suggestion. "it" might refer to her back.... though probably not.


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    #8

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by Naamplao View Post
    Personally I like the original writing better than your suggestion. "it" might refer to her back....

    Really

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    #9

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by HSS View Post
    Hi.


    I would normally presume there was more than just one sofa there as I read "a sofa" and the rest of the passage. But this time somehow I cast doubt on it. There could be more than one, there could be just one couch in the apartment. Is this what you feel as you read this, too?
    As the tears streamed down Elizabeth's face, both Steven and Billie slipped their arms around her and steered her into the apartment.


    Elizabeth collapsed onto a sofa. Steven sat beside her, resting one arm along the back of the couch.
    Thanks in advance.

    Hiro
    I don't think the use of the indefinite article is purposeless.
    I was first struck by the symmetrical nature of the two sentences:

    the first As the tears streamed down E'face, both.... slipped their arms ... into the apartment: We've got an impression of warmth and over-determination which contrasts with the second part in which everything oreveryone looks cold and objects under-determined- as if everyone was a stranger to the other

    the tears go down // collapse onto a sofa ( two different ways of falling!!)
    slipped their arms// resting one arm
    around her/ along the back of the couch ( arms moved from the Elizabeth's back to the couch's)
    the point might be here...

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    #10

    Re: A Sofa

    Quote Originally Posted by Naamplao View Post
    I suppose there could be more than one sofa in the room. Couch and sofa mean the same thing. The author uses couch in the second line to avoid repeating sofa.
    As most of my brain cells have rested up enough over the weekend, and I have more time to look into your message, Naamplao, I have just realized that you might have thought I had asked the query because there are two words, sofa and couch, in the passage. You might have thought I might have imagined there were two sitting items in the apartment as there are two words.

    I am very familiar with the words; it is not that that made me wonder about the number of sitting items in the apartment. It is, more like, into the nitty-gritty of how native speakers of English feel when you look at the indefinite article.

    If you read a paragraph like:

    One August day John went to the high school he long since graduated from. He saw nobody working there, as though the building was deserted, because he visited them right in the middle of the summer vacation. He peeked into the gym and saw a man dribbling a basketball.

    What do you imagine, there could have been only the man in the gym, or there could have been someone else too? There could well have been someone else there but couldn't there possibly have been only him?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I would have expected "the" in that passage was well, but I think the point is that it wasn't important which piece of furniture poor Elizabeth collapsed on - it was the closest one, which happened to be a sofa instead of a chair.
    I just want to clarify a thing. I don't understand "was well" above, Barb_D. Please help.


    Best,

    Hiro

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