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The ABC school is a graduate school in Texas. The school opened to an inaugural class of 30 students last year.

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The ABC school is a graduate school in Texas. The school opened to the inaugural class of 30 students last year.

I thought it should be "an inaugural class of 30 students," since this entity is mentioned for the first time in the context. But the sentence I came across here reads:

The Dell Medical School is the graduate medical school of The University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas. The school opened to the inaugural class of 50 students in the summer of 2016 as the newest of 18 colleges and schools on the UT Austin campus.

Does the use of the definite article here strike you as odd/wrong?

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    The definite article can be used to refer to things that are unique. Any inaugural class, therefore, can be referred to with the definite article. I think the indefinite article would be fine, but I don't think the definite article in this context is grammatically incorrect. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the definite article is only used when an entity is "mentioned for the first time" – there are several other contexts where the definite article can be used. – J.R. Feb 14 '18 at 11:16
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An inaugural class, for the first mention of it. The next mention of it becomes: the class. That's the trick here. The switch from A, first mention, to THE, second mention is a common feature of English.

For example: We went to a movie yesterday night. The movie was terrible.

I saw a cat on the side of the road. The cat was licking its paws as if it had just finished a meal.

This is a very useful RULE to remember.

  • Thanks. That was my line of thought too. But the original sentence actually uses the definite article, and that's what puzzles me. Please see the updated question. – Eddie Kal Feb 12 '18 at 22:32

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