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Could someone give me some situation examples that I can make sense out of the difference between them.

Thanks for your help.

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It's not a case of different usages being appropriate to different situations, it's just different ways of thinking about the thumbs-up.

Using a treats the sign as an ordinary gesture, in the same way that we say She gave him a wave/a smile.

Using the treats it as a gesture with specific meaning ('all is well' or 'I'm OK with that'), as in the Masonic handshake, the Nazi salute.

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  • Thanks Kate. With this in mind, it makes much more sense to say "She gave me the thumbs-up sign I could never forget."
    – Den Allan
    Jul 21, 2020 at 9:39
  • Well, what if I got three thumbs-up signs from the same person in one day, should I use "a" to describe the first thumbs-up sign?
    – Den Allan
    Jul 21, 2020 at 9:42
  • As I said, the situation doesn't matter. She gave me the thumbs-up sign = she made the conventional sign for indicating that all was well. She gave me a thumbs-up sign = she gestured towards me with her thumb in the air. The difference is in how you think of the sign. Jul 21, 2020 at 15:09

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