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I was reading articles online and found this:

When a modifier appears between the article and the noun, the subsequent article will continue to be indefinite:

"I'd like a big glass of orange juice, please," John said.
"I put a big glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied.

Source: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/determiners/determiners.htm

My question is that "can we rephrase this sentence:"

"I put a big glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied

Something like this:

"I put the big glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied

If not then please let me know below sentence is correct or not?

I have seen the big house in our town.

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  • Fersher. But with the definite article you are talking about a specific glass or a house which you expect your hearer to know about. Apr 5, 2014 at 16:29
  • Thanks, I understand what you explained to me but could you please explain this (When a modifier appears between the article and the noun, the subsequent article will continue to be indefinite...........).
    – user62015
    Apr 5, 2014 at 16:35

2 Answers 2

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The website you got this from is pointing out something very peculiar. It first gives this example:

"I'd like a glass of orange juice, please," John said.
"I put the glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied.

Sheila is referring a particular glass of juice – the one she put on the counter. Therefore, she switches from a glass to the glass.

However, when they add a modifier:

"I'd like a big glass of orange juice, please," John said.
"I put a big glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied.

Why, in this case, did Sheila say "a big glass" instead of "the big glass"? Because (this website claims):

When a modifier appears between the article and the noun, the subsequent article will continue to be indefinite.

I think this is bad advice.

In the first example, Sheila could say a glass of juice, even without the modifier. In fact, I think that version sounds better:

"I'd like a glass of orange juice, please," John said.
"I put a glass of juice on the counter already," Sheila replied.

Also, I don't see how the presence of a modifier determines which articles should be used. Consider:

John ordered a dish. I cooked the dish for him.

John ordered a succulent dish. I cooked the succulent dish for him.

I didn't switch to an indefinite article just because I added the word succulent.

Either I'm missing what this website is trying to say, or else the website is trying to create a "rule" that shouldn't be a rule.

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    +1. I think what the website is trying to say is: "If you have an indefinite article followed by a noun, just adding a modifier does not change the article- if it was indefinite before the modifier was added it will remain so (continue) after the addition." I suspect that this "rule" stems from an attempt by English learners to say that by adding a modifier I am now talking about a specific something and so why shouldn't I change to the.
    – Jim
    Apr 5, 2014 at 20:56
  • Great, it made me clear. This was the answer I was looking for. And Jim also made a very good point.
    – user62015
    Apr 6, 2014 at 3:04
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The use of the definite article "the" in front of a name gives a strong connotation to the name in question.

The big glass / the house in our town, would indicate that specific glass or house which you want to put in evidence for some reason.

Usage is important especially for non-native speakers which always find this issue confusing. The below link might help.

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/determiners-and-quantifiers/definite-article

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  • Thanks, I understand what you explained to me but could you please explain this (When a modifier appears between the article and the noun, the subsequent article will continue to be indefinite...........)?
    – user62015
    Apr 5, 2014 at 16:42
  • Pls make an example to illustrate your point.
    – user5267
    Apr 5, 2014 at 16:46
  • Please check my question agian. I have explained everything and I understand what you are trying to explain about articles but I already know them but when I read something unexpected so I landed here. Please check my question, I have given the link and pasted what I was reading there.
    – user62015
    Apr 5, 2014 at 16:53
  • I put the big glass... would not be appropriate
    – user5267
    Apr 5, 2014 at 16:57
  • I have seen the big house in our town, is grammatically correct. The use of "the" again is to be seen within the context.
    – user5267
    Apr 5, 2014 at 17:00

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