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A self-belief



 
ESL Forums | English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms
Ordinals with an indefinite article | OBE?
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A self-belief #1 (permalink) Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:56 am   A self-belief
 

Hi,
As another shot article-wise, I had referred to ‘self-confidence\self-belief’ as a non-countable before I stumbled upon, “A self-belief has grown in the squad over the last three or four years which has put them in this position,"… And this doesn’t seem to have anything in common with say, “’I can explain,’ he said, with a confidence he did not feel” (confidence specified).
My question is how would you treat that ‘a self-belief’ (uttered by a native English speaker).
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A self-belief #2 (permalink) Thu Nov 09, 2017 15:34 pm   A self-belief
 

I think it is understood to be a particular self-belief, specifically the belief that they can win, or something along those lines.

This is what I found on a grammar website for Russians, who of course must have a tough time with English's fixation on articles http://usefulenglish.ru/grammar/part-2-articles-with-uncountable-nouns-basic-rules :

Indefinite article with uncountable abstract nouns

The indefinite article may be used with some uncountable abstract nouns to show a special (temporary, unusual) type (kind, character, side) of something, mostly in formal writing and in literary works. In such cases, an uncountable abstract noun usually has an attribute. The article a/an in such cases can convey the following meanings: such, certain, special, particular. For example:

The director spoke at the meeting today with an enormous enthusiasm.
She smiled at us with an unusual friendliness.

A paralyzing horror overwhelmed him.
There was a dull anger in his voice that surprised and frightened her.
A knowledge of physics is necessary for this job.

In many such cases, especially in ordinary speech and writing, uncountable abstract nouns can be used without the indefinite article.
The director spoke at the meeting today with great enthusiasm.
He was paralyzed with horror.
She smiled at us with unusual friendliness.
Knowledge of physics is necessary for this job.
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A self-belief #3 (permalink) Thu Nov 09, 2017 16:08 pm   A self-belief
 

If I got it right, the original was just a case when an uncountable abstract noun was lacking an attribute: “A [special] self-belief has grown in the squad over the last three or four years…”
Like, “A [special\certain] knowledge of physics is necessary for this job.” (?)
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A self-belief #4 (permalink) Thu Nov 09, 2017 16:16 pm   A self-belief
 

The simplest explanation for the use of the indefinite article in its many uses is that it suggests 'one' (numerically) and in that sense it can refer to one of as many things you care to talk about.
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A self-belief #5 (permalink) Thu Nov 09, 2017 19:37 pm   A self-belief
 

Alan wrote:
The simplest explanation for the use of the indefinite article... it suggests 'one' (numerically) and in that sense it can refer to one of as many things you care to talk about.

Like, one self-belief/-confidence/-esteem etc.?
Also, one knowledge?
Not so sure this would work when applied to abstract nouns.
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A self-belief #6 (permalink) Fri Nov 10, 2017 17:35 pm   A self-belief
 

I think you have missed my point or I haven't made myself clear. When I suggest 'one' I meant to indicate that it refers to one of a number of different types of the noun and certainly it works with abstract nouns - a fear of heights, a fear of water, a fear of spiders and so on. Likewise a knowledge of mechanics, a knowledge of history and so on.
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A self-belief #7 (permalink) Fri Nov 10, 2017 19:45 pm   A self-belief
 

Alan wrote:
I meant to indicate that it refers to one of a number of different types of the noun and certainly it works with abstract nouns

I’m trying hard, really. And I find it quite helpful when you deal with a specified knowledge (eg of different kinds of human activities) or fear as a specific instance of a distressing emotion (you’ve named some of them.) They sound natural, and can be counted and differentiated for me.
With ‘self-belief/-confidence/-esteem’ etc., it doesn’t seem that easy to single out a specific quality/state. Same with consciousness or intelligence, which are hard to specify.
To me, ‘a home self-esteem’ or ‘a working-hour self-confidence’ don’t make sense. They’re not an apron you can take on and off. Either you have it or not.
That’s why I’d take on board Luschen’s explanation (‘certain/special’), and keep searching.
P.S. How about hygge?
Eugene2114
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A self-belief #8 (permalink) Fri Nov 10, 2017 20:54 pm   A self-belief
 

'a home self-esteem' - 'a working-hour self-confidence' don't make sense to me, either. What are you on about? I'll just say in conclusion that the use of the indefinite article is to emphasise singularity among other uses of the word (often an abstract noun).
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