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  1. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 8
    #1

    Using the

    This dialog is from my English textbook:

    A: Excuse me! Is there a cafe here?
    B: There's an Internet cafe in Park Lane next to the bank, and there's an Italian restaurant in Church Street next to the travel agent's.
    A: OK. Thanks.

    1) Why is there "the" before "bank" and "travel agent's"? Person A is a stranger asking for the direction in this dialog and these places are not known to him or her.
    2) Could I use "a" instead of "the"?

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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      • British English
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      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Ireland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #2

    Re: Using the

    Quote Originally Posted by kayetan View Post
    This dialog is from my English textbook:

    A: Excuse me! Is there a cafe here?
    B: There's an Internet cafe in Park Lane next to the bank, and there's an Italian restaurant in Church Street next to the travel agent's.
    A: OK. Thanks.

    1) Why is there "the" before "bank" and "travel agent's"? Person A is a stranger asking for the direction in this dialog and these places are not known to him or her.
    2) Could I use "a" instead of "the"?
    It refers to the bank in Park Lane and the travel agent's in Church Street.
    Presumably there is only one bank in Park Lane and only one travel agent's in Church Street.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #3

    Re: Using the

    It refers to the bank in Park Lane and the travel agent's in Church Street.
    Presumably there is only one bank in Park Lane and only one travel agent's in Church Street.


    Hence, Person B is referring to a specific bank and a specific travel agent.


    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 364
    #4

    Re: Using the

    Its an English text book. They often make up these sentences to teach you grammar rather than to give useful instructions.

    Clearly you dont know where the bank is, therefore it wont help you much. Maybe the bank is easier to spot when you arrive on that street and so would help you find the cafe.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #5

    Re: Using the

    I don't think the issue is one of English Phrases for the Traveller.

    1) Why is there "the" before "bank" and "travel agent's"? Person A is a stranger asking for the direction in this dialog and these places are not known to him or her. (Hence, might appear to be non-specific references, calling for the use of 'a'.)
    Hence:)
    2) Could I use "a" instead of "the"?

  3. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 8
    #6

    Re: Using the

    Thank you for your help

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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      • English
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      • United States
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    #7

    Re: Using the

    Quote Originally Posted by kayetan View Post
    This dialog is from my English textbook:

    A: Excuse me! Is there a cafe here?
    B: There's an Internet cafe in Park Lane next to the bank, and there's an Italian restaurant in Church Street next to the travel agent's.
    A: OK. Thanks.

    1) Why is there "the" before "bank" and "travel agent's"? Person A is a stranger asking for the direction in this dialog and these places are not known to him or her.
    2) Could I use "a" instead of "the"?
    Good question.

    The is there because bank and travel agent both require articles. The is correct because B is talking about a particular bank and a particular travel agency. Yes, a would be fine, too, but the is the more common choice.

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]

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