Alice asks Michael an English grammar question. Michael is trying to give an example to explain that, so Michael says

let's use Harry as example

let's use Harry as the example

let's use Harry as an example

which one should Michael use?

As far as I know, the first one might be incorrect, as "example" is a countable noun, the speak should use an article. Is my understanding right? How about others?


I believe you are correct about the first - this does not sound grammatically correct.

Let's use Harry as an example is correct. Michael might then want to take someone else to use as another example.

Let's use Harry as 'the' example implies probably incorrectly that there is one and only one example. The one and only example that exists and using Harry to demonstrate it. In reality there would be countless examples of correct grammar therefore let's use Harry as 'an' example and if Alice still doesn't get it we might use Harry if he doesn't mind to role play another example of the point being made.

Hope this helps.

| improve this answer | |
  • Both ...as an example, and ...as the example should work, depending on the context. "let's use Harry as the example" points to a context that 'Harry' as an example is being talked about, or is familiar to the teller, whereas ...as an example seems to say ...'one among many examples. – Ram Pillai May 23 at 4:36

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