1

The rule states that:

Use (A) the first time you mention something, and (The) the second time you mention the same thing.

Kindly, consider the following example: (source: English for Starters 9)

((I'm going to tell you about a city called Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon. It is a city with lots of beautiful old houses.))

According to the rule, we should say:

((It is the city with lots of beautiful old houses))

because it is the second time we mention the word (city). Why did we use (a) instead of (the) in this situation?

  • That "rule" is wrong. A is used for nonspecific things (Tripoli is a city, because it's one of many) and the is used for specific ones (Tripoli is the city where I was born). – stangdon Feb 25 '18 at 14:03
  • No, the rule is right. It's the OP's interpretation of it that is wrong. One does move from A to THE, but the THE has to go with the same object. – Lambie Feb 25 '18 at 15:38
1

In your question, it is not the number of times something is mentioned, rather

A

is used when being nonspecific, whereas

The

is used when being specific or pointing out uniqueness or utmost

I'm going to tell you about a city called Tripoli.
The city (that I just mentioned) has lots of beautiful houses.

"the city" is used since you are specifying the city you just mentioned in the previous sentence

This is a different pattern to

I'm going to tell you about a city called Tripoli.
It is a city with lots of beautiful houses.
It is also a city with pre-Roman and pre-Ottoman architecture.
It is the most famous and largest city in Lebanon.

Where there are many cities with "beautiful houses" and "architecture", but only one is the "*largest" and "most famous".

The ordering could be changed to

I'm going to tell you about a city called Tripoli.
It is the most famous and largest city in Lebanon.
It is a city with lots of beautiful houses.
It is also a city with pre-Roman and pre-Ottoman architecture.

A native speaker would not have a problem with either ordering.

Maybe this makes it clearer the difference in using "the" vs "a", but it is not dependent on the "ordering".

0

The rule is right, your example from the book is right.

Your interpretation is incorrect:

Your example in the book is correct. The first mention is A city called Tripoli. The second mention would then become The city, that specific city. BUT in their example, they continue with the idea of A city: it has not yet become The city. It is still a city among others in Lebanon.

Still referring to Tripoli.

If you say: It is a city with lots of beautiful homes that means there might be others like it in Lebanon.

The movement from A to THE has to refer to the same thing. If you start with A and keep A, that means the thing (city of Tripoli) is ONE of what could be others like it.

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