In Baku many modern architectures attract your attention, like the special building which was made by Zaha Hadid.

I feel in the above sentence, one should say "a special building", though if we omit "special", "the building" is also correct. Is this any creditable? If yes, why?

To me using "the special building" to refer to a specific building seems odd. I can imagine "the building made by ..." to mean a specific building. "the red building" to point to a famous red building in Baku, but when it comes to "special", my mind requests an "a", because first "special" is not like "red" a specific and noticeable attribute for the hearer. I can imagine the hearer asks "Which special building", "How special", but with "a special building" I just say there is a special building (in some ways) there made by Hadid.

2 Answers 2


The adjective "special" has nothing to do with it. There's a specific building by Zaha Hadid that the author is using as an example, so he/she uses the definite article "the".

You could also write "the big building ... Zaha Hadid", "the red building ...", "the new building ...", or just "the building ..."

  • But can one also use "a special building" to say the same sentence?
    – Ahmad
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 17:25
  • 1
    @Ahmad: I find it hard to imagine any native speaker using special in your cited context above. What exactly do you want the adjective to mean? Note that it would be perfectly natural to refer to, say, The spectacular building [designed by Hadid]. Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 17:42
  • @Ahmad: yes, the writer could have use "a special building". The difference in meaning is very slight: using "the" puts more emphasis on the fact that the writer has a particular building in mind.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 18:25
  • @FumbleFingers the sentence was written by a learner. To me, it could be special in some way, not usual, not like any other building.
    – Ahmad
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 18:37
  • 1
    @Ahmad: Sorry, but your edit doesn't help me understand what you want to convey by using the word special. I will say that your use of the word specific suggests to me that what you might really mean is ...in particular the building designed by Hadid (i.e. - the writer is saying that building is particularly likely to attract your attention, rather than saying it's some kind of "special" building). Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 19:42

As a native speaker, that's not the only issue with the sentence ;-)

To me. 'the special building' implies there is one of them in Baku. 'a special building' implies there are at least two and the author is referring to one of them in particular. If there is only one building designed by Zaha Hadid, then it's not the special one made by Zaha Hadid, it's the only one... so you'd say 'the building'.

The other things that do not sit right in the sentence... Firstly, 'In Baku many modern architectures' ... unless you are referring to types of architectural style you'd probably say 'In Baku many modern architectural buildings'. Secondly 'which was made by Zaha Hadid.' would only be correct if Zaha Hadid actually built the building themselves. Normally you'd use 'which was designed by Zaha Hadid.'

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .