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If a teacher said a score of A is only for one student, should I say "I got an A" or "I got the A"?

If a teacher said he can give me pencils up to 3, although I have one pencil, I can get 3 pencils or 2? And if I mean 2 pencils, what is the sentence to be?

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  • From what you've read, what have you found so far?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 12:51

2 Answers 2

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I got the A

This means two things:

  • There is one A or one possible A.

  • You are expected to know which A.

So this implies there is only one A for anyone to get, and/or that no one else could have gotten the A.

This may be true if, for example, the teacher says someone has an A, and the rest have other grades, then you finally find out you have "the A".

I got an A

This means two things:

  • There are multiple A's or multiple possible A's.

  • It doesn't matter which specific A we are talking about.

This is the normal situation with grades.

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  • Except you can say, "I got an A" even when no one else got an A.
    – J.R.
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 14:49
  • @J.R. Wouldn't that be covered under "multiple possible A's" , as the possibility does not guarantee the existence of other A's.
    – moneyt
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 19:51
  • @moneyt - Maybe so. But I can see how a learner might read this answer and think that you couldn't use "I got an A" if there was only one A. I'm just trying to clear up any potential confusion.
    – J.R.
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 19:54
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If the teacher has announced that only one student received an A, and another student asked you, "What grade did you get?", then you could answer:

I got the A.

because the other student knows there was only one A.

However, if the question was asked by someone who was not in the class when the instructor made the announcement, then you could answer:

I got an A.

because it would sound strange if you used the definite article. Yet if you wanted to answer their question and make it clear that you were the only A, you could say:

I got the only A.

That tells the person your grade and provides the additional information as well.

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