0

Could someone explain the reason why the definite article is omitted in the first example?

The task was clear: pump a healthy dose of emotional appeal into the shriveled-up fruit. Link up sensations that people wanted. "Shriveled" and "dried" are not the sensations that most people associate with feeling good about their lives.

The author is referring to specific sensations in both cases, not just in the last one, so it should be definite too. Thanks!

1

The sentence could be understood as either:

Link up some sensations that people wanted.

or

Link up the sensations that people wanted.

If "some" is meant, then it is indefinite and "the" is not needed. The second sentence can be changed to indefinite too while remaining grammatical and without changing its meaning:

"Shriveled" and "dried" are not sensations that most people associate with feeling good about their lives.

Using either indefinite or definite is not a problem in any of these examples.

| improve this answer | |
  • if we don't include the definite article in "Shriveled" and "dried" are not sensations that most people associate with feeling good about their lives. We just don't refer to a whole group of sensations that people wanted, we refer to some of them, right? – Through The Wonders Jan 1 at 6:53
  • Let's say your friend has a list of the presents which he expects to be presented to him soon. If you say ''those two things aren't THE presents which he expects etc.'' you thereby refer to all the presents which he expects, and if you don't use the definite article you mean ''those tho things aren't some presents which he expects etc., right? You now refer to some of the presents instead of all of them and the difference is subtle. – Through The Wonders Jan 1 at 7:44
  • 1
    @ThroughTheWonders Correct. "Shriveled" and "dried" are some sensations that most people don't associate with feeling good about their lives. Second question also correct! You wouldn't use "the" unless he's only expecting two presents. – CJ Dennis Jan 1 at 7:51
  • ''Those laptops are presents which he expects'' = You know he expects not only those laptops but something else too, right? – Through The Wonders Jan 1 at 8:50
  • 1
    @ThroughTheWonders In all of your indefinite examples the assumption is that there are more that aren't being mentioned. So, yes "Those laptops are presents which he expects" means he's expecting more presents than just the laptops. "Those laptops are some of the presents which he expects". Does that make it clearer? The laptops are a portion of all the presents he is expecting. However, "Those laptops are presents" is describing the laptops as presents, not implying that there are more. – CJ Dennis Jan 1 at 9:10
1

Specific, when talking about articles, means "referring to something understood or previously mentioned." It does not mean "qualified with additional information."

The task was clear: pump a healthy dose of emotional appeal into the shriveled-up fruit. Link up sensations that people wanted. |

Sensations in this sentence doesn't point back to anything understood or previously mentioned.

Can you ask the question "which" sensations at this point? No. Because the conversation doesn't include any "instances" of sensations yet.

Is "those that people wanted" a valid answer to "which sensations?" It is if there's previous text or conversation talking about those.

"Shriveled" and "dried" are not the sensations |

Here, the sensations points back to "shriveled" and "dried."

You can ask now "which sensations" and be able to answer - "shriveled" and "dried."

| improve this answer | |
  • If I say ''The present that I wanted...'' it refers to a specific present, but if I say ''The sensations that people wanted'' it turns out to be not sufficient enough to make ''sensations'' definite. I don't know which sensations they're talking about, nor I know which sensations most people associate with feeling good about their lives, which is the second example. ("Shriveled" and "dried" are not those sensations that most people associate with feeling good about their lives.) – Through The Wonders Jan 1 at 7:00
  • Also, I thought in the second example the author says about a specific group of sensations [that most people associate etc.] and states that shriveled and dried are not among them. Which sensations do most people associate with feeling good etc.? I don't know. – Through The Wonders Jan 1 at 7:16
  • It's like you see two bricks and say ''These bricks are not the bricks that might be used to build up a good house'' ''the bricks'' here doesn't refer to those you see. Now compare your last example with mine. – Through The Wonders Jan 1 at 7:25
  • So when choosing to use an article or not, the speaker may use the X to communicate he/she expects you to know which X, i.e. it's understood, from the speaker's POV at least. If you can't answer that, you are either in the middle of a conversation, or the speaker/writer is making assumptions that you know more than you actually do. – LawrenceC Jan 1 at 8:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.