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karlalou.s
Is this discussionable why it's chosen to be 'a'?

I know it's very possibly a typo, but I still want to know what masters of the language think.

"Angela Merkel's conservative bloc has come in first in Germany's federal election, giving Merkel a fourth term as chancellor." (NHK)


Mar 16, 2018 9:16 PM
Comments · 14
Fourth is an adjective here for a singular noun, term. The author could have simply said another term but emphasizes that there have been previous terms. There can only be one fourth term however, because another term would be a fifth term
March 16, 2018
Masters of the language, hm ... But why do you think there should be no “a”? It seems perfectly fine to me: give me a second chance, give it another try, give me a fourth term ... or am I missing something?
March 16, 2018

(Continued from above)

Now, consider this scenario:

My mother gave me the green cookie.

Your mother has baked a couple dozen cookies.  Most of the cookies are orange.  Only one of them is green.

Your mother asks you,

"Tom, would you like a cookie?"

"I sure would like a cookie!" you say.

"Here you go.  Take this cookie," your mother tells you.

"But Mom! " you reply.  This cookie is orange!  I want the green cookie!"

"I don't know, Tom.  The green cookie is really special to me.  I have a lot of affection for the green cookie."

"But I really want the green cookie, Mom!" you whine.

"OK!" your mother says.  "Now take your cookie and go away!"

You tell your friends because they didn't get a cookie, but you did:

"My mother gave me the green cookie!  There was only one green cookie.  All the rest of the cookies were orange.  She gave me the green cookie!  Don't you wish you had a green cookie?"

(Continued below)






March 17, 2018

I had a professor in college who had read an entire book on the word the.  Even so, he said that he still didn't completely understand all the nuances of the word the.

The easiest way to think about it is this:

My mother gave me a green cookie.

The scenario behind this sentence would be something like this:

Your mother has baked a couple dozen cookies.  Most of the cookies are orange, but 3 or 4 of them are green.

Your mother asks you,

"Tom, would you like a cookie?"

"I sure would like a cookie!" you say.

"Here you go.  Take this cookie," your mother tells you.

"But Mom! " you reply.  This cookie is orange!  I want a green cookie!"

"OK!" your mother says.  "Now take your cookie and go away!"

You tell your friends because they didn't get a cookie, but you did:

"My mother gave me a green cookie!  Don't you wish you had a green cookie?"


Notice in this dialogue that you say "My mother gave me a  green cookie."  There were 3 or 4 green cookies along with all the orange cookies, so there was not a single. specific green cookie that both you and your

mother knew you were both talking about.  It was just one green cookie among several green cookies.  You didn't care what green cookie you got as long as it was green and not orange.

March 17, 2018

I have an idea. I have to mention that English is not my native language.

If we say THE fourth term we speak of a term which is unique. There is only one of them and is related exclusively  to Angela Merkel

If we say A fourth term we have in mind that theoretically any chancellor could assume a fourth term. It is more generic.

March 17, 2018
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karlalou.s
Language Skills
English, Japanese
Learning Language
English