Tell me please which article I need to use in the following sentence.

John's boss menaced him with a/the fist saying that if he don't finish the project by evening he will fire him.

I am not sure which article I need to use because the boss has two fists.

  • The boss can have two hands but only one fist – like this guy
    – J.R.
    Sep 11 '18 at 16:58
  • Something else occurred to me: do you mean that the boss is making fists with both hands? In that case you would say fists and not a or the fist.
    – stangdon
    Sep 11 '18 at 17:01
  • 1
    For what it's worth: If he didn't finish the project . . .he would fire him. Sep 11 '18 at 19:02
  • And then John gave his boss the finger. Sep 11 '18 at 19:24
  • We have answered this question in many forms before and I believe for you,too.
    – Lambie
    Sep 11 '18 at 22:22

The only one that sounds fluent is a fist, because it happens to be one fist but it is not important or known exactly which one, and it doesn't make a difference. The fact that the boss has two fists doesn't matter.

"The fist" sounds like it's referring to some specific fist that we've already mentioned.

Reference: http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/grammar/articles.html
This is just rule #1: Use the indefinite article a or an only with a singular count noun whose specific identity is not known to the reader. It's one fist, but the specific identity isn't known.

  • Exactly. Compare: John's boss gave him a banana after work. It doesn't matter if there is one banana, or a whole bunch.
    – J.R.
    Sep 11 '18 at 17:00
  • You're assuming there has been no previous reference to a fist. If there has been (John closed his fingers into a fist), then the fist (or this fist) is completely appropriate—and more warranted than a fist. Sep 11 '18 at 19:01
  • 1
    @JasonBassford True, but in what we were given, there wasn't.
    – stangdon
    Sep 11 '18 at 19:18
  • Dontcha think this is a duplicate? I don't mind at all myself. Duplicates are ok by me. I was not looking to give you a piece of my mind.
    – Lambie
    Sep 11 '18 at 22:24

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