As it is possible to use an indefinite article with the same noun that has been mentioned before, would it be possible to use the indefinite article before every word ‘table’ in the following sentences?

Three people ordered a takeaway but realized they don’t have a table to it on.

Person 1: We need a table

Person 2: Yep it’s true, it is hard to eat your meal without a table (any table)

Person 3: I agree, we need a table (any table)

2 Answers 2


You have to use an article in each case (the sentences would be incorrect without). "a" is the best best in all 3 sentences.

You could use "the" if you had a specific table in mind. For example, sentences 1 and 3 could use "the table" if there was a table in the room (or if you were outside and there was a picnic table) or a folded-up table nearby, especially if you pointed to it as you said "the table".

Sentence 2 wouldn't sound that good with "the table" though, even if you pointed to a table and it was clear you meant that one. I would definitely stick with "a" in Sentence 2.

  • Thank you for your answer. I conclude that in this case, the definite article needs to be used when you have in mind the specific 'real' object not just the 'concept' of it.
    – Bubik
    May 2, 2020 at 19:17

Yes, you need an article before each use of "table." The implication of the indefinite article in your hypothesized conversation is that no particular table is needed. As you say, "any" table on which their plates can be placed will let them eat in comfort.

But it is not a natural conversation.

We need a table.

Yes, it is hard to eat without one.

I agree.

People do not parrot the same noun as you have them doing in this conversation.

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