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What type of person is he speaking to? (a known context) I have a question about " It is obvious to the person I am speaking to that I am referring to my own garden and apple tree." in the following passage. "It is clear that when we first refer to a particular person or thing we normally use the indefinite article, a, and then, once it has been identified, we continue with the definite article, the. Compare the following: I saw a fox cub at the bottom of the garden yesterday. The fox cub, which was still only a baby, was lying in the sunshine under the apple tree. But what about the bottom of the garden, the sunshine and the apple tree? I haven't mentioned them before, yet immediately I use the definite article. I do so because I am referring to a known context. It is obvious to 'the person I am speaking to' that I am referring to my own garden and apple tree. It is clear from the situation which ones I mean." Q:Can "the person he is speaking to" be a person he first met that day or had known for a few days?
Jul 24, 2014 2:56 PM
Answers · 12
In this case, I would be more inclined to say that the person you are speaking to is someone who you are quite familiar with, i.e. have known for a few days. It sounds like you came to the same conclusion, because as you pointed out, the definite article is indicating a known context. The garden is described in such a way that implies that the person is already familiar with the garden. For example, you wouldn't say "the garden" unless it was already obvious to the person you are speaking to which garden you are referring to. Similarly, by saying "the apple tree" we can deduce that there is only one apple tree in the garden, but it makes more sense that this has already been explained to the person beforehand. This is also the reason why we always say "the sun(shine)", "the moon", "the sky", "the Earth" etc. in English, since there is only one of each (assuming we are talking about this planet, which we usually are). Sounds like you're getting a good feel for using indefinite/definite articles, keep it up!
July 24, 2014
"I was on holiday in Japan. I saw a man jump into the sea to save a drowning woman." Which sea? Have I mentioned it before? Is there only one sea, just as there is only one sun, in this solar system?
July 24, 2014
Ah okay. As I mentioned below, I would say that as a rule of thumb you can use definite article with strangers when referring to things which everyone are familiar with.
July 25, 2014
Shao, yes, it can be correct. Example: I went to the supermarket to see the manager to complain about the supervisor.
July 25, 2014
Honorifics have nothing to do with definite article since we don't use indefinite or definite article in Korean like English. I was thinking if it's possible to use definite article even in a conversation with stranger.
July 25, 2014
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