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Thread: Article "A"

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    Article "A"

    Hi. Why is "a" article there but not "the" or "zero" article?
    The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the main victorious Allied forces...

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    Завсегдатай Crocodile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timon View Post
    Hi. Why is "a" article there but not "the" or "zero" article?
    The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the main victorious Allied forces...
    Yeah, the "a" is certainly a blast... I think you can't use the "zero" article because that would make the "series" look plural, whilst here it means a (=ONE) sequence. To be honest, I see nothing stopping you from using "the", but I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm not too sure about that.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    This sentence is aimed at someone who does not know what the Nuremberg Trials are, and indeed that there was a series of military tribunals. That's why there is an indefinite article. If in the same situation a definite article were used, and the person who hears the sentence did not know that such trials existed, he would reply "what trials are you talking about?". A definite article supposes knowledge. It would mean that this specific series of tribunals had been mentioned before or that the listener knows that this specific series existed. In general, concepts which have not been introduced or mentioned yet are introduced using the indefinite article.

    You can't drop the article altogether because "series" is a singular noun, even if it doesn't look like one.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    In general, concepts which have not been introduced or mentioned yet are introduced using the indefinite article.
    Let's have another talk about that in the future. Has the future been introduced yet?

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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    yes, we all know what "the future" means.

    a series -- because there are many different series, and the Nuremberg Trials was just one of the many.

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    -At the Nuremburg Trials.
    -The Nuremburg Trials? The what, sorry? Weren't they a pop group?
    -(to an ignorant young person)No. They were a series of military tribunals, held by the main victorious Allied forces.
    -(to an old person who should know better)No. They were the series of series of military tribunals held by the main victorious Allied forces. You know the ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    You can't drop the article altogether because "series" is a singular noun, even if it doesn't look like one.
    I got it. I should have checked whether "series" is a plural or singular noun. Nevertheless the discussion regarding the vs a is also interesting. Thank you all!

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodile View Post
    Let's have another talk about that in the future. Has the future been introduced yet?
    It works with "future" as well. In your exmaple it is just an aspect of time as oppsed to past and present, and everyone knows there's only one future as a temporal direction. But "Does the combustion engine have a future?" is a question about a non-introduced concept of the specific future of a specific item, which can then be answered like "yes, the future of this engine lies in..." etc.

    And I said "the specific future of a specific item" because there might be any number of items, therefore "a specific item", but once I select that item it can only have one specific future, therefore ""the". The definite article is used for concepts which are further defined. Any item has a specific future, but a specific item has the specific future it will turn out to have had.

    Yeah, the mind boggles... I'm glad I was born to the concept of articles, and much more complicated ones than the English articles to boot, but I righteously suffer for that by not being born to the concept of verb aspect.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    Yeah, the mind boggles...
    That's true. I mean, I'm not a grammarian kind of person, so remembering those rules and exceptions kind of does not work for me in a speech. So, sometimes I have to create my own intuitive rules which work sometimes and do not work in other cases. Like, I know I could relatively safely use "the" if I can substitute it with "my", "your", "our", or "their" and the sentence would still make sense. And I'm pretty sure this rule is incorrect, but it helps me using "the" at least somehow...

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    If ever you decide to learn German, not only do we have articles too, but we apply our cases to them! Serves you right for having verb aspects!

    I don't think it is possible to learn to speak a language well by learning and applying rules. Rules help getting an understanding of the concepts, but the ideas they represent have to be ingrained in the brain just as they are in a native speaker brain. No child learns its native language by rules. Rules are tools a grown-up can use in order to approach a language from a different level. English is a second language for me, and the rules I describe here I do not usually fetch from memory but derive them from what I know about the usage of the language.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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