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Here's a sentence:

The Good Samaritan Parable tells a story of how a jew traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed and beaten by criminals who then left him to die by THE side of the road.

The road by the side of which he was left to die had two sides. Why does the author of the sentence uses the definite article before the word side? It could be any side. Shouldn't it be "by a side of the road", instead?

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The definite article is there to provide that the man was left to die by THE side of the road and NOT at THE middle of the road nor elsewhere. There might be other interpretations -- this is how I understand/interpret the context.

  • When the author writes "the side" does he mean the left side or the right side of that road? If he doesn't specify, I surmise, the right way of saying this would be "by a side of the road". But he uses "the" - so it must mean that it's a particular side of the road, mustn't it? – Rusletov Sep 25 at 11:24
  • It means that it is either left or right side, but definitely not THE center/middle. ;) I don't know much about the background story, my answer is based on the available information. 'The' is used to pertain the part of the road, not which side of the road the man was left to die (I think). But let's wait for the opinion/interpretation of others. – shin Sep 25 at 11:34

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