There are a Frank and his neighbor Bill. They are talking on the phone.

Bill: - Hello Frank! Come visit me now. I want to show you something.

Frank: - I can't do it now, I am waiting for A/THE man.

What article should be used an why provided Bill doesn't know the man Frank is waiting for.

  • 1
    But surely Frank knows who he’s waiting for? Why wouldn’t he say “I’m waiting for someone.”?
    – ColleenV
    Feb 29 at 10:41
  • 2
    You should be very careful about saying 'I'm waiting for the man' because in many Western societies it will be understood as 'I'm waiting for a drug dealer'. There is a very famous song by The Velvet Underground with that exact title.. If you don't want to be specific you would probably say, as @ColleenV suggests, 'I'm waiting for someone'. If you wish to be specific, you would add why you are waiting for 'a man' or 'a woman', e.g. 'I'm waiting for a man who is coming to fix the boiler'. Feb 29 at 10:48
  • 3
    "I'm waiting for a plumber/gas engineer/whatever." Frank might just as easily say "the plumber" meaning "the one I've called in" or "the one I usually employ". It doesn't matter whether Bill knows him or not. Feb 29 at 10:57
  • Note, Bill said "something," not "the thing" or even "a thing." While "a man" is a better choice than "the man," "someone" is even better. Feb 29 at 15:26
  • But this seems a basic question that you ought to already know. Please edit the question to tell more about why you're unsure. Voting to close otherwise. Feb 29 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


If the listener doesn't know who you are talking about, you need to use an indefinite article before the noun "man". So, it should be "a man". If the listener knows the man, then that man isn't just "a man": he is "the man".

  • 1
    This is true as far as it goes, but see the comments above for a more realistic dialogue in this situation. Feb 29 at 10:59

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