Supposing you were in a shoe shop and wanted to try a pair of shoes, would you say

  1. Can I try them on in size 5?
  2. Can I try them on in the size 5?
  3. Can I try them on in a size 5?

Or maybe.. can I try them on in 5 size?..

Determiners always confuse me ... really a lot. I'm not really sure when to use or when not. Thanks in advance.


In a shoe shop, you'd usually use "a" at first. You can also omit the on and the size if you like, which probably sounds more natural - "Can I try them in a 5?" Once the attendant has brought the size fives over to you, though, you'd switch to using "the." "Let's try the size 5 again." Generally, a, the indefinite article, is used in the general case, or when you don't know the thing you're asking about. Before the shoes are brought over to you they're just a size 5, you don't know any more about them. Once they are physically with you they become the size 5 - the is the definite article, it's used to refer to a specific object. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/determiners/a-an-and-the)

  • Thank you very much !!! – Jude Keum Jun 16 '19 at 23:09

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