1

Is it grammatically correct to use 'a' in the following sentences? (see bold parts)

The author calls them elitist because of their belief that someone without a formal education could never have written the masterpieces ascribed to Shakespeare.

But did you know that it takes the bald eagle five years to grow into one with a distinctive plumage?

I found these sentences in a practice paper for grammar correction. They didn't use 'a' in any of these sentences and didn't even mention them in the correction. So now I'm wondering about this.

  • 1
    Yes. It's perfectly fine. You could greatly improve this question by asking it in a more open manner, rather than asking a "yes/no question"... Presumably, your question is actually "Can you please explain the use of the article in these sentences?" Perhaps consider explaining why you think it is not correct. – Catija Sep 8 '15 at 17:23
  • 1
    To piggyback on what @Catija said, you might also let us know where these sentences came from. Are they something you wrote? Or something you found? (And, if the latter, where did they come from?) – J.R. Sep 8 '15 at 17:35
  • @J.R. I found these sentences in a practice paper for grammar correction. They didn't use 'a' in any of these sentences and didn't even mention them in the correction. Perhaps it was a doubt just for me. – Phoenix Sep 10 '15 at 0:17
  • It's a good question, but it really helps to know where they came from and why you're asking. – J.R. Sep 10 '15 at 0:50
1

The article is optional in both cases. The indefinite article imparts a sense of completeness or fullness.

"A formal education" is one that has been completed, as distinct from "formal education" which may mean merely "some formal education".

"A distinctive plumage" is one that has the complete pattern characteristic of that species, as distinct from (sorry) merely "distinctive plumage" which may be just beginning to resemble that pattern.

without formal education

without a formal education

with distinctive plumage

with a distinctive plumage

  • Good answer and I'll add to this that in this context, it is very common to hear "with no formal education" instead of "without..." – CocoPop Sep 10 '15 at 0:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.