The use of articles in "what" questions

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musicgold

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Hi all,

I always get confused with common sentences used in daily conversations, for example,

  • What is portfolio or what is a portfolio?
  • What is extrapolation or what is an extrapolation?
My confusion is related to the use of articles. I get further confused if I am not sure whether the word about which I am asking is a countable or non-countable noun.

Is there a rule of thumb for such situations?

Thanks,

MG.
 

vil

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Re: what is a/( ) portfolio?

Attention: I'm not a teacher.

Hi musicgold,

portfolio , portfolios (countable)

1)A large flat case or cover for carrying or storing large documents, drawings, photographs, etc.
2)Stk. Exch. The entire collection of investments belonging to an investor or held by a financial organization such as a bank, pension fund or investment trust.

Yamaichi employs ISS in its index-linked portfolio services to manage more thoroughly risks.
Yamaichi employs ISS in its index-linked portfolio services to manage more thoroughly risks.
The total portfolio exceeds nine hundred million.
A similar portfolio had enabled another "unemployable" student to obtain freelance work as one of the..
Accordingly, the rate of turnover of a portfolio investing significantly in futures may quite legitimately be much higher than one would expect of..
Each applicant is asked to supply a portfolio of work at interview.
A portfolio of work will form part of the interview process.

extrapolation (countable or uncountable)

calculation of the vlue of a function outside the range of known values.

The standpoint of Coburn's story was an extrapolation of machine intelligence, written at a time when computers were only just beginning to..
Theory of obligation rests entirely upon a cryptic theory of distributive justice rather than an extrapolation of fundamental precepts of liberalism.

Applications Many of the applications of FELs are logical extrapolations from existing lower power sources, but some of the most exciting future developments can..
But beware of extrapolations, my daughter.
Sharpe is equally critical of extrapolations from the Draize test as indicators of toxicity for humans (100–1).
Could you tell us more about these extrapolations --; or predictions --;
For more polar polymers, specific solvent effects become more pronounced and extrapolations have to be regarded with corresponding caution.

Regards.

V.
 

musicgold

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Re: what is a/( ) portfolio?

Vil,

Thanks. My apologies for the confusion. I know what a portfolio is and what extrapolation means.

My question is whether I should use an article in a 'What' question. Those two 'what' questions were just examples.
 

vil

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Re: what is a/( ) portfolio?

Dear musicgold,

I beg your pardon for my talkativeness. It is not part of my intentions to overburden you with my redundant explanations.

There was your question

“I get further confused if I am not sure whether the word about which I am asking is a countable or non-countable noun.”

and here are my authentic answers:

portfolio , portfolios (countable)
extrapolation (countable or uncountable)

And all the rest is logical thought. Something that you probably have more than enough.

Regards.

V.
 

RonBee

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My opinion:
It is a portofolio because a portfolio is an object, a thing. (It's tangible.) On the other hand, you can omit the article with extrapolation because extrapolation is an intangible.

:)
 

musicgold

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Ronbee,

Thanks. Let us just say, I came across a word called 'googol' in a coversation. I don't know anything about that word, and want to ask the other person what googol means.
Should I say 'what is a googol?' or 'what is googol?'
 

David L.

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In that situation, you can say either!

What's a 'googol'?
What does 'googol mean?

But again, the syntax in which the word is used will give you a clue. eg:
"There were googols running everywhere"
'He hit him over the head with a googol.'
'Take one googol, and marinate for 30 minutes.'
- obviously a noun, so 'What's a 'googol'?

'He succumbed to the googol heat.'
"He googled, which took me by complete surprise." - obviously not a noun, so 'What does 'googol' mean?.
 

naomimalan

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:-D
Hi all,

I always get confused with common sentences used in daily conversations, for example,
  • What is portfolio or what is a portfolio?
  • What is extrapolation or what is an extrapolation?
My confusion is related to the use of articles. I get further confused if I am not sure whether the word about which I am asking is a countable or non-countable noun.

Is there a rule of thumb for such situations?

Thanks,

MG.

The rule of thumb, as you say, would be:
-if it's countable (e.g. portfolio), you would say: What is 'a portfolio'?
-If it's uncountable (e.g. chaos) you would say What is 'chaos'?

The problem with a word like 'extrapolation' is that it can be either countable or uncountable, depending on the context. :-D:-D
 

RonBee

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:-D

The rule of thumb, as you say, would be:
-if it's countable (e.g. portfolio), you would say: What is 'a portfolio'?
-If it's uncountable (e.g. chaos) you would say What is 'chaos'?

The problem with a word like 'extrapolation' is that it can be either countable or uncountable, depending on the context. :-D:-D
:up:
 
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