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I am trying to fill in the blank of this sentence. Is it "a" or "the"?

"They said they were employees of ..... textile factory".

I think the blank should be "a". But the answer key of my grammar book says; it will be "the".

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    It would help if you provided a couple of surrounding sentences (context).
    – user3395
    Jun 27, 2017 at 0:13

2 Answers 2

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Both are completely grammatical and normal. The difference is one of context, and if your grammar book does not give you a context, then it is wrong to insist that only one answer will do.

"The textile factory" is used when the speaker has a specific factory in mind, and thinks that the hearer will know which one they mean. With "a textile factor" the speaker may or may not have one mind, but does not expect the hearer to know which one.

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"The textile factory" implies a specific one. "A textile factory" is more general. Consider the sentences

I am going to the textile factory.

and

I am going to a textile factory.

The first sentence sounds like the speaker and listener know which factory is being visited. On the other hand, the second sentence could be used if the speaker doesn't know which factory they are going to. It might also be used if the speaker doesn't want to specify the destination for some reason.

Edit: Given the added detail, I would still say that either sentence is correct. Unless there is an accompanying picture including a single textile factory, or some surrounding text to give context, I would not be able to choose "correctly."

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