Here are two sentences. I am confused about the articles a/the. Can you please explain to me which one is correct, and why? The sentence is:

1: During a road race a driver at the last position made a maneuver which made him take the second place.

2: During a road race the driver at the last position made a maneuver which made him take the second place.

  • 2
    Both sentences are correct for the article before the driver. However, we usually say road race, and we take second place not the second place. Mar 22, 2017 at 16:12
  • 1
    I would also offer that the maneuver did not make him take second place, but allowed him to take second place, as other factors were probably in play as well.
    – Davo
    Mar 22, 2017 at 16:23
  • 4
    We usually say in the last position (or even more likely, in last place). Using the indefinite article a driver in last place more strongly implies you're making a general statement about what any driver in that position in any road race (in the past) would normally have done. But since you're presumably referring to one specific race rather than most/all races, you're also referring to one specific driver. So the driver is more appropriate (but as @Yosef says, both are "valid"). Mar 22, 2017 at 16:23
  • If the driver went from last to second, I would assume there were only three cars in the race.
    – J.R.
    Jan 7, 2018 at 18:23

1 Answer 1


As pointed out in the comments, the is more appropriate because the driver we're referring to in this case was a particular driver in a particular race who had been present at the last position before he made the maneuver. Also, it is worth noting that the sentence also focuses on the maneuver and it's importance to the driver which won him the second place, which makes the doer of this action equally important. If we're to use 'a' in this sentence, it would imply that any driver could have performed this incredible feat, which apparently isn't the case here.

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