Thinker
One sentence, two possible interpretations. Does that work? ''Josh has an ability to make money'' 1) It might imply that there are many abilities that might enable someone to make money. He might be good at math and it allows him to make money. It's like saying John has one indefinite ability in order to make money. 2) Of all the abilities someone might have, John has this exact ability: an ability to make money. And for me, there is then no difference between ''John has THE ability to make money.''
Oct 13, 2019 12:02 PM
Answers · 3
In my mind, these two sentences are not necessarily synonymous. “John has an ability to make money” says to me that he is or has been successful, in general, in making money, doing whatever. “John has the ability to make money” tells me he is capable of making money but who knows if he actually has made money.
October 13, 2019
First, in this case as in many others, you can use either “the” or “a” without it sounding too bad. Which of the two is (marginally) better has to do with how definite you want to sound. Superman has the ability to fly. (It’s clear and well-known) Jessica Jones has an ability to jump high. (Not as clear, more ambiguous) As far as “ability to make money”. “Ability “ isn’t the usual word to use. By default, making money is something you do in return for doing something else. It’s not intrinsic to the person and not noteworthy. So what are you trying to convey by describing it as an ability? These are much more significant than the debate over the/a. John can earn money. John can make money. John has the capability to support his family, if only he’d stop drinking.
October 13, 2019
I suspect you are overthinking this. It means merely that John can make money, but it does not say what that skill is specifically.
October 13, 2019
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Thinker
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English, Russian
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Russian