Mary and her husband Dimitri lived in the tiny village of Perachora in southern Greece. One of Mary's prize possessions was a little white lamb which her husband had given her. She kept it tied to a tree in a field during the day and went to fetch it every evening. One evening, however, the lamb was missing. The rope had been cut, so it was obvious that the lamb had been stolen.

When Dimitri came in from the fields, his wife told him what had happened. Dimitri at once set out to find the thief. He knew it would not prove difficult in such a small village. After telling several of his friends about the theft, Dimitri found out that his neighbour, Aleko, had suddenly acquired a new lamb. Dimitri immediately went to Aleko's house and angrily accused him of stealing the lamb. He told him he had better return it or he would call the police. Aleko denied taking it and led Dimitri into his back-yard. It was true that he had just bought a lamb, he explained, but his lamb was black. Ashamed of having acted so rashly, Dimitri apologized to Aleko for having accused him. While they were talking it began to rain and Dimitri stayed in Aleko's house until the rain stopped. When he went outside half an hour later, he was astonished to find that the little black lamb was almost white. Its wool, which had been dyed black, had been washed clean by the rain!

Why in the first paragraph, the author used a field, but in the second paragraph, the author used the fields


There was only one lamb, which was tied to only one tree, which was located in only one field. So the word "field" is singular. But which particular field is not important to the narrative, only the fact that it was in some far-off field, so the author used the indefinite article "a field." (If the specific field had been described earlier the author probably would have used "the field" to indicate it was that one field that had been previously mentioned.)

Dimitri, however, was out working in multiple fields, so "fields" is plural. In English we do not say "a fields," so we must either use "some fields" or "the fields." "Some fields" does not really make sense, as it implies a random or happenstance assortment of fields; Dimitri would not be working in just any field, but in the specific ones he owns or has crops planted in. So the author uses "the fields" to indicate the general area where he was working.

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