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While reading an English grammar book I've run into some issues:

particularizing attribute with indefinite article

There is the example of a sentence with particularizing attribute:

One day in January he called at the seminary to return a book which he had borrowed.

(noun - a book, particularizing attribute - which he had borrowed)

Could it be that it's just a typo or there can be an exceptions in this rule ?

According to the rule, nouns with particularizing attributes are used with the definite article.

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    Having text rather than an image of text would be better for a lot of people. Also, it's not clear what you think is wrong with this text. – SamBC Feb 5 at 19:33
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    It seems to me that the text itself specifically explains that this is an exception, and what the exception is called ("descriptive attribute" as opposed to "particularizing attribute"). – Nathan Tuggy Feb 6 at 7:09
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    Where did you see a rule that particularising attributes always use a definite article? – SamBC Feb 6 at 8:36
  • Nathan, but the point is that there is no descriptive attribute in the example, there is particularizing attribute. – P. Morozov Feb 6 at 13:23
  • SamBC, i just didn't seen the rule, that states the opposite. And, for me, it's really hard to imagine that particularizing attribute can be used with indefinite article, because it particularizing, it's singling out the noun from the class. – P. Morozov Feb 6 at 13:34
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Here is an example with a particularizing attribute:

He went to return the book which he had borrowed.

In this example, we assume that he borrowed only one book. The clause “which he had borrowed” identifies a particular book.

 

Here is an example with a descriptive attribute:

He went to return a book which he had borrowed.

In this example, we assume nothing about the number of books he borrowed. The clause “which he had borrowed” simply describes the book.

 

We can see the same sort of flexibility with simple adjectives:

He returned a red book.
He returned the red book.

How can we tell the difference between a particularizing “red” and a merely descriptive “red”? Where the attribute is particularizing, we find the definite article.

 

The point is that, in the original example in question, there is no particularizing attribute. The book is trying to show you how to identify that difference.

  • Thanks for your answer, now it looks more clearly. But it seems that only thing that matters is what the speaker meant. In that case it's not either particularizing or descriptive attribute defines the article, it's an article defines whether particularizing or descriptive the attribute is. – P. Morozov Feb 10 at 17:52
  • I’d call it context rather than speaker intent, but yes. Inherently, they’re just attributes. An attribute can be particularizing in one context, yet merely descriptive in another. If only one book in context is red, it’s “the red book”. If any number of books in context might be red, it’s “a red book”. Context establishes whether the attribution is particularizing. – Gary Botnovcan Feb 10 at 19:12
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As mentioned already in the comments, the text itself specifically explains that this is an exception, and what the exception is called ("descriptive attribute" as opposed to "particularizing attribute").

"A descriptive attribute is used to describe an object or to give some additional information about it. This kind of attribute does not single out an object (or a group of objects) but only narrows the class to which it belongs." https://studopedia.org/6-124075.html

"A descriptive attribute... In a fortnight I got a long letter, which I considered odd. (E. Bronte)" https://studfiles.net/preview/2975819/page:2/

By these definitions, to return a book which he had borrowed is a descriptive attribute, it does not absolutely single out the book, it only narrows the class to which it belongs.

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