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I wrote this thing;

"I woke up as any other usual day, but my spirit was high. After a long period of non-stop, vigorous working, I finally could relax, as it was a/the day of rest."

I strongly feel that "the" can be used in that sentence, as it is a reason, a very definite reason that is, for my being able to relax. Therefore, even though my readers will not have any information prior to reading this, I think "the" should be used.

Am I right? I always have difficulty knowing which article to use. If I am wrong, please tell me the difference between the nuances of those uses.

Edit:

I think that implied noun is "the day of rest that finally allowed me to relax", which I think is a referent unique enough to be used with a definite article.

Like this: I like to write stuff on the book when I annotate a book. It is sure that I am not referring to a specific book. But I used "the" instead of "a", because it refers to a book that I am annotating in a hypothetical situation. It is implied, which I think makes it definite.

Please correct my analogy if I am wrong.

  • Using the would have to imply a specific day. For example, if you don't ever do work on Sundays, you could call it "the day of rest". Otherwise, it needs to be a. Almost always, a is used in this kind of phrase, since there are so many days. – user3169 Aug 20 '16 at 3:22
  • @user3169 But isn't it specific that is is the day (which is of rest) that allowed me to relax, not just a day of relax? – whitedevil Aug 20 '16 at 3:52
  • That is only specific to the kind of day. Surely you will rest on other days. – user3169 Aug 20 '16 at 4:06
  • @user3169 Does "the" imply there is only one day of rest that I can get out of all the days? Like the day of her death or alike? – whitedevil Aug 20 '16 at 4:16
  • Only if it is in the context. You said "as it is a reason, a very definite reason", but did not say specifically which date it was. – user3169 Aug 20 '16 at 4:20
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Whether to use "a" or "the" depends on what you are trying to say.
If you habitually rest on a particular day, then you would use

the day of rest

and refers to a particular day one does not work and can be understood to be naming that day as a "day of rest"

a day of rest

refers to a day, in general, when one does not work

"A day of rest" is not necessarily "the day of rest", but
"the day of rest" is definitely "a day of rest".

In your book analogy sentence sounds a bit awkward

I like to write stuff on the book when I annotate a book.

You are actually using the shorthand of

I like to write stuff on the book (that I am annotating) when I annotate a book.

and the meaning is

I like to write stuff on the (cover of the) book that I am annotating.

Using "on" implies you are writing on the outside of the book in your context. If you were writing regarding the contents of the book, you might use "about"

I like to write about the book (I am annotating) on its cover.

  • Thank you. I meant to say "I like to write stuff in the book when I annotate a book." I meant it to be the shorthand of this; "I like to write stuff in the book (that I am annotating in a hypothetical situation, or, in other words, any book that I might be annotating at any give time, not a specific book, but definite that it can only be the book that I am annotating) when I annotate a book". Does it make sense? – whitedevil Aug 21 '16 at 16:09
  • Or is my analogy wrong? – whitedevil Aug 21 '16 at 18:59
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Your sentence provides details about why you can finally relax, not about day of rest.

As such, it is most natural to use a day of rest, as you are not talking about any day of rest in particular. You would use the day of rest if (a) you assume your hearer can identify which day of rest it is; or (b) if you want to make day of rest the topic of the discourse (and so you will go on to talk about the day of rest).

You have to more tightly link these reasons/details to day of rest in order to make it definite. One way to do this is by using the day of rest to head a relative clause that further defines it. Consider any of the following:

"I woke up as any other usual day, but my spirit was high. After a long period of non-stop, vigorous working, I finally could relax, as it was the day of rest I had long been looking forward to."

or

"I woke up as any other usual day, but my spirit was high. After a long period of non-stop, vigorous working, I finally could relax, as it was the day of rest I deserved after working so hard."

Now, the hearer can identify which day of rest you are talking about. And only now are you being "very definite" about which day of rest you are talking about.

  • Thank you. I have one more question; is it okay to use "a day" with those definite days involving "I had been looking forward to" and "I deserved working so hard"? – whitedevil Aug 21 '16 at 21:28
  • Well, one thing the relative clause does is to identify which day you're talking about, so the is natural there. The indefinite article wouldn't work so well there, so poorly that it would be unusual and unidiomatic to find it there. I mean an English speaker can use the definite or indefinite article whenever he wants but the usage may or may not be the customary, expected or idiomatic usage. Here, it is not the expected usage. There could be a context where it might work so I rarely say never or ever regarding certain usages. @whitedevil – Alan Carmack Aug 21 '16 at 23:28
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    I found this; "This is an important and a happy day, a day of achievement that we will always remember with optimism and hope." How is it different from the ones up there? I'm quite confused. – whitedevil Aug 22 '16 at 0:08
  • Remember, the indefinite article can make a specific reference (I married a woman from Japan). So the sentence you now ask about is talking about a specific day, but it is not saying that it is the only day that we will remember with optimism and hope. There could be, and probably are, several such days and this day is just one of them. – Alan Carmack Aug 22 '16 at 5:02
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    @whitedevil Yes! – Alan Carmack Aug 22 '16 at 20:53

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