Michael Finance Law
Professional Teacher
Cows and articles

Your friend from Europe is visiting the English countryside and, every day, he goes for a walk across some nearby fields.  He normally sees a small brown cow who he finds out is called "Daisy" (a stereotypical name for a cow!).

One day, he crosses the same fields, and notices another cow with Daisy, munching grass together.  This second cow is big and black.  

Right at that moment, you call your friend to find out how he is doing. You already know about Daisy but he tells you about the new cow with Daisy. You ask your friend:

"What is the other cow like?"

You answer : "It is the big black cow".

You are a little confused because of a small language mistake made by your friend.

a) What is the mistake?

b) Why might you be confused?

c) Can you think of any alternative situation in which your friend's answer, "It is the big black cow", could be a grammatically correct answer?

Don't post an answer if it's immediately obvious to you! You could join the discussion later.

Dec 27, 2015 9:58 PM
Comments · 3

I'm a native English speaker. It took me a little while to come up with an answer to (c) that satisfied me. Here it is, in grey on grey. You should be able to read it by dragging your mouse across it. 

You talk to your friend until you understand the situation. Suddenly, over the your friend's phone, you hear the sound of a cow mooing.

Drag mouse from here:

You: "Do I hear one of the cows mooing?"

Your friend: "Yes, I'm outside with my cell phone and she is right next to me."

You: "Which cow it is?"

Your friend: "It is the big black cow."

To here.



December 28, 2015

The mistake is about the use of articles.

December 28, 2015

<font face="Arial, sans-serif">Given this example: I suppose, 'my' friend answered “It is the big black cow”, because “You ask your friend”, subsequently in your example it reads: “You answer” contradicting “You are a little confused because of a small language mistake made by your friend.” - I don't have trouble answering the a), b) and c). Therefore this reply is not a real answer. </font>

December 28, 2015