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The following paragraph from the classic book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, retold by Doreen de Castro seems to have a missing article in the placeholder (*). Is the missing article "a" or "the"? Would be great if you could tell me why in either case?

Ben stopped in midbite and watched Tom run the brush daintily over the wood fence, resting against (*) trunk of a tree with legs stretched.

  • What do you mean by "retold by Doreen de Castro"? Like a translation or audio book? Unless in the original version, I would say this is a typograpical error. – user3169 Oct 18 '14 at 21:01
  • I am not sure the author is a native speaker of any English variety. The book is in English, though the publisher is an Indian company. The name of the author was written "Doreen de castro" with Castro as catro (lower case) in the first page of the book. – learner Oct 19 '14 at 5:04
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a probable typograpical error or mistake by the author. – user3169 Oct 19 '14 at 5:10
  • As a non-native speaker, I suspect that it is a mistake rather than a typo. This is because mastering articles could prove challenging. However, it just happens this may not be as tricky as in other cases. I thought the missing article was (a) but @nmar believes it is "the". Any ideas? – learner Oct 19 '14 at 5:11
  • @learner Yes, the. – snailplane Oct 19 '14 at 6:44
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It's definitely missing something, but it's almost certainly the definite article the. It could be the indefinite article a, which would also be grammatically correct, but doesn't sound quite right.

Ben stopped in midbite and watched Tom run the brush daintily over the wood fence, resting against the trunk of a tree with legs stretched.

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    It's the trunk of a tree, because a tree generally only has one trunk, so that's why a trunk of a tree sounds wrong. – starsplusplus Oct 19 '14 at 11:11

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