The article "a" is not generally used before the word "proximity," but I have come across a sentence where it is.

Here goes: "There is a physical proximity between them."

Does "a" here mean "some", and that they are somewhat physically similar?

  • There, a physical proximity between them seems to be used as a desiccated periphrasis for intimacy, not similarity. Context would help.
    – TimR
    Dec 19, 2017 at 10:05
  • I cannot find the context. The thing that I wander the most about is if the use of the article iscorrect there Dec 19, 2017 at 10:10
  • 1
    The article is OK there because of the adjective physical. A kind of proximity is being singled out. It is best not to spend too much time on sentences in isolation. Context is key.
    – TimR
    Dec 19, 2017 at 10:13
  • That is the answer to my question Dec 19, 2017 at 10:16
  • But the adjective is not necessary for the article: a proximity in certain contexts would not be ungrammatical.
    – TimR
    Dec 19, 2017 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


Proximity without the article likely means proximity in an abstract/general sense. Typically this means it is equivalent to tacking on the words "in general" after the noun phrase.

Proximity to market is important for the farmer = Proximity to market in general is important for the farmer.

With the article, the sentence means that the speaker/writer is talking about "any existing instance" of proximity.

The problem you are having is likely that proximity itself is a rather abstract concept, two things have proximity if they are near each other. So what is "a proximity"?

What's going on is that people with experience in certain fields or wanting to communicate authority/credibility may "instance-ify" things - the instances they refer to are vague ones in their mind of prior experience.

A proximity to market is important for the farmer.

So the article makes the sentence carry a faint flavor of "I know a bit about farmers."

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