"The man over there" or " a man over there"?

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japanjapan

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Apr 4, 2004
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Chinese
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China
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Dear teachers,

I met a question about articles.
______ man over there is my teacher.

the answer is "The", but Let's suppose the following situation:
There are five men over there talking to each other, and I say to my sister,"A man over there is my teacher."
Is it right? Can I say it?

thanks
yours
japanjapan
 

oregeezer

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Nov 24, 2007
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English Teacher
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American English
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United States
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Thailand
That would be correct to refer to one of a group.
You could also point and say "That man over there is my teacher." But pointing is considered impolite!
 

riverkid

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Aug 17, 2006
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English Teacher
Dear teachers,

I met a question about articles.
______ man over there is my teacher.

the answer is "The", but Let's suppose the following situation:
There are five men over there talking to each other, and I say to my sister,"A man over there is my teacher."
Is it right? Can I say it?

thanks
yours
japanjapan

If there is only one man, then 'the' is what you want. However, the answer is not necessarily 'the', for it depends on the situation and what the speaker wants to say.

I'd say that 'a man' would not be a natural choice here. If there were five then,

One of the men over there is my teacher.

But this seems like a situation where a relative clause, or a reduced descriptive clause, is in order;

The man that has his back to us/wearing the cap/that has a paunch is my teacher.

To my mind, we'd use 'a' for a situation where we didn't know the man, he was one of a group and we were conveying some information that we'd been given, for example,

Jill, a man over there wants to talk to you.

There could of course, be other reasons where an 'a' would be possible.
 
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