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  1. Which article should I use in the sentence below? I have noticed that ‘the‘ is often used in this kind of situation (question on forums). Let’s assume that nothing indicates that the question is about articles:

    Does the sentence below need a/the definite article?

  2. Is it possible to use the indefinite article in the sentences below? Let's say that a little boy throws stones in a paddle and his mom isn’t happy about it (sorry about the banality)

    Mother: don’t throw stones in the paddle

    Son: but it is the only way that a crab will appear.

    Mother: a/the crab will not appear if you throw stones in a/the paddle

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    I don't think you want the word "paddle" here. Possibly you want "pond" or maybe "puddle." Also, be sure to put a period at the end of each sentence.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 22:27
  • A puddle is so small and shallow that a crab would not need to 'appear', as it would surely be already visible. Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 12:23

2 Answers 2

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You would use a crab if the son is generally convinced that throwing stones into any puddle will make a random crab appear because all puddles contain crabs. You would use the crab if the son has, for example, spotted a crab in a particular puddle and wants to drive it out; he doesn't want just any crab, he wants THAT crab in THAT puddle.

As for whether it needs articles: no, it could easily be:

Mother: don’t throw stones in puddles

Son: but it's the only way crabs will appear.

Mother: crabs will not appear if you throw stones in puddles

Edit: Note that, in order to remove the articles, "crab" and "puddle" must both become plural. To use the singular, "crab" or "puddle", one must choose between a or the depending on whether the discussion is about crabs/puddles in general (a), or a specific crab in a specific puddle (the).

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  • I agree with your first paragraph, but wanted to note that in your example of using no article, you have made "crab" plural. Can you think of an example without an article where it is singular? Commented Jun 7 at 2:57
  • No, you need an article to use the singular crab. You can't say "Crab will not appear" or "the only way crab will appear". Commented Jun 7 at 4:51
  • I'm glad we agree, I was also having trouble thinking of one! Could you edit your answer to include that? It will make it stronger Commented Jun 7 at 15:43
  • A mother can say in a specific situation: Don't throw stones in the puddle,
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 7 at 16:27
  • Yes, if the mother is talking about a specific puddle that the son has been throwing stones into. Commented Jun 7 at 16:31
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Do you mean puddle? Puddles are generally (unless hiding a pothole on the street) too small to hide a crab - perhaps you meant pond (or tidal pool)?

Use "The crab will not appear (or will not come) if you throw rocks" if you know there is only 1 crab in the puddle and want to see it.

If you do not know how many crabs are in the puddle:

Use "The crabs won't come if ..." or "Crabs won't come if ..." if you hope any number will come or you wish to emphasise the action of throwing the stone.

Use "A crab will not come if ..." or "No crabs will come if ..." to emphasise you won't get to see any crabs.

Edit (to answer the questioner's comment / further question to this reponse):

You have to use the article "the" in the mother's response: "No crabs will come if you throw stones in the puddle". You would never omit an article - "No crabs will come if you throw stones in puddle" is never used.

If you say "No crabs will come if you throw stones in a puddle" you are either talking about the abstract concept of crabs and some general theoretical puddle somewhere (not likely that a small boy would be having this discussion) or talking about a puddle you are at that is (potentially) miles away from any crab and that you hope/expect that by not throwing a stone in the puddle, some random crab (why not a lion) will come walking along and you will see it.

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  • Really sorry ,I meant a puddle, but a pond sounds much better though. I assume that I can use ' a puddle' in the last sentence? What about the first question please?
    – Bubik
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 19:30
  • No problem about paddle/puddle. I edited my response before I saw your comment, so can you clarify (in your original question) what the two questions are? I only see 1 question.
    – michael
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 19:41
  • The first question was :1.Which article should I use in the sentence below. I have noticed that ‘the ‘is often used in this kind of situation * (question on forums). Let’s assume that nothing indicates that the question is about articles -Does the sentence below need a/the definite article?
    – Bubik
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 19:49
  • Also in question 2 in which mother answers:a/the crab will not appear if you throw stones in a/the paddle. Can the indefinite article be used before 'puddle'?
    – Bubik
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 19:53

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