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    #1

    'the'

    Dear teachers,

    In Livemocha Practice I read a few sentences, which were resembled each other, but with a subtle difference concerning the usage of the articles.

    1."The bridge goes across water."
    2."They walked across the water."
    3."The bridge is above the water."
    4."The bridge goes across land."
    5."The river goes under the bridge."
    6."The motorcycle is coming across the bridge."

    Could you clear my talk at cross-purpose?

    Thank you in advance for your efforts.

    Regards.

    V.

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    #2

    Re: 'the'

    1."The bridge goes across water."- this is just telling us what is under the bridge- water not a railway. It is not specific about the water.
    2."They walked across the water."- we know which water the walked across.

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    #3

    Re: 'the'

    Hi Tdol,

    Thank you for your classical interpretation.

    Regards.

    V.


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    #4

    Re: 'the'

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Dear teachers,

    In Livemocha Practice I read a few sentences, which [were] resembled each other, but with a subtle difference concerning the usage of the articles.


    2."They walked across the water."


    A group of Jesus's, perhaps?



    Could you clear my talk at cross-purpose?

    Thank you in advance for your efforts.

    Regards.

    V.
    ##


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    #5

    Re: 'the'

    Hi folks,

    I'm actually on the Livemocha team, and I received a Google Alert this morning for this post. Thanks so much for using Livemocha to learn English - I hope you enjoy it.

    I'm not our content developer or a linguist, but let me take a crack at this because it's a good question and I had to look up the answer :)

    Check out David Appleyard's article here:
    EnglishToolbox.net | David Appleyard's Guide to Article Usage in English

    The absence of an article (a, an, the) is acceptable for words that are abstract ideas (ie. nature), or not countable (water, land). There are exceptions to the rule, like with all other rules in English. And it isn't WRONG to use an article in front of these abstract and uncountable words - so for the ease of learning, I would insert "a, an, the" in front of all words. In other words, treat these strange words like the word bridge.

    We should add this feedback to the "tips" on Livemocha. :)

    Thanks again for your interest.

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    #6

    Re: 'the'

    Hi riverkid,

    I shouldn't suffer in silence your rustic sense of humor concerning the quoted of me sentence "They walked across the water". But I have to manifest the superiority of European culture.

    Could you imagine the next situation? There is a river (not Jordan). There is a group of people (they aren't the disciples of Jesus). These people want to cross the river. They look up for a ford. Then they line up suitable stones at regular intervals laying the foundations of an improvised pseudo bridge.

    Could you, with the help of your high knowledgeable English language, depict their changing sides of the river,i.e. their passing across the water stepping over the mentioned above stones (not Moses' plates)?

    Regards.

    V.
    Last edited by vil; 17-Dec-2007 at 15:10.

  1. rewboss's Avatar

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    #7

    Re: 'the'

    vil, I don't think European culture, or any other culture, is "superior". I think you just didn't express yourself very clearly.

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    #8

    Re: 'the'

    Hi rewbass,

    Thank you for your chastening and censorious remark.

    Would you make yourself clearer concerning my incapacity "to express myself clearly"? What are you driving at with your insinuating remarks?

    V.


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    #9

    Re: 'the'

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Hi rewbass,

    Thank you for your chastening and censorious remark.

    Would you make yourself clearer concerning my incapacity "to express myself clearly"? What are you driving at with your insinuating remarks?

    V.
    You don't use simple words to describe what you want to say. I have the same problem understanding you at times. The highlighted words are examples.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

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    #10

    Re: 'the'

    vil, I think you're trying too hard to use long or unusual words, or certain idioms; this makes your meaning unclear, because the words you use are sometimes inappropriate for the context.

    For example, you ask me what I am "driving at" with my "insinuating remarks". That means you think I am trying to accuse you of wrong-doing or make you look bad, and are challenging me to defend my remarks. You also use the word "censorious", which means you think I am trying to stop you from saying what you want to say.

    This is what is termed "fighting talk"; in other words, it sounds as if you are goading me into an argument.

    I am sure you don't intend anything of the sort, but you must be aware that the language you use is not appropriate for this context. If you try using simpler language, your message will be less easily misunderstood. For example:

    "Could you explain what you mean when you say I didn't express myself clearly?"

    That's a polite request instead of a challenge; it's not "fighting talk".

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