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Which sentence is correct if I'm writing an article and a reader doesn't know how my table looks?

Currently, I'm sitting at the table and trying to learn something new from English.

Currently, I'm sitting at a table and trying to learn something new from English.

From what I know, I can use the definite article only when a reader or listener exactly knows which is the table I'm thinking about. So I would use at a table. But it doesn't sound good to me.

  • Any additional context you can add? "a table" could be right, but "the table" could potentially be okay too, even if we don't know what your table looks like. For example, if this is a blog post that you write from home, and your readers know that already, you could say "the table," and your readers could probably guess that you mean the table in the dining room in your house. – cjl750 Sep 13 '17 at 16:49
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It isn't necessary that the reader or listener know all there is to know about an object for you to use "the". It's sufficient that they know which thing you are talking about, in at least some general sense.

If I am talking to you on the phone and you are at a home and you said "I'm sitting at the table", then unless there was some other information, I'd assume you meant your dining table. For most people, the dining table is the only table or the most prominent table in their house, so it's "the table".

If you're in a place where there might be several tables or many tables, you'd normally say "a table". Once you identify a table, it becomes "the table". Like, "I'm sitting at a table in a restaurant. The table is pretty small." It's "a" at first mention, but after that it becomes "the". Note the listener doesn't have to know anything about the table other than "the one I just mentioned" for it to become "the table". He doesn't know what color it is, how big it is, what it's made of, etc. All he knows is, the table I just identified.

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  • So, if I would wrote Im sitting at the table in my office, I would use the. If Im sitting at a red table, the a article would fine. – trenccan Sep 13 '17 at 17:48
  • Yes. Assuming there is only one table in your office, it would be "the table in my office". If there is more than one, you could say "a table in my office" or you could specify, like "the red table in my office". – Jay Sep 13 '17 at 18:42
  • @trenccan: If you say I'm sitting at the table in my office, that could be parsed as equivalent to I'm sitting in my office at the table. It carries no implication that I might have other tables elsewhere, or that it's remarkable that this one should be there. But something like I'm sitting at the red table (with or without in my office) carries a strong implication that there are other different coloured tables and/or you think it's an unusually coloured table. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 13 '17 at 18:52

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