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How to use the English articles?



 
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How to use the English articles? #1 (permalink) Sun Jul 22, 2007 17:51 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

English Grammar Tests, Elementary Level

ESL/EFL Test #98 "Articles in English Grammar", question 2

Can you please go to ......... grocery store on fifth street and buy 2 cartons of milk?

(a) a
(b) an
(c) the

English Grammar Tests, Elementary Level

ESL/EFL Test #98 "Articles in English Grammar", answer 2

Can you please go to the grocery store on fifth street and buy 2 cartons of milk?

Correct answer: (c) the

Your answer was: incorrect
Can you please go to an grocery store on fifth street and buy 2 cartons of milk?
_________________________

Can you please go to the grocery store on fifth street and buy 2 cartons of milk?

Correct answer: (c) the

Your answer was: incorrect
your sentence:
Can you please go to an grocery store on fifth street and buy 2 cartons of milk?

y it is wrong?

Uland
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How to use the English articles? #2 (permalink) Sun Jul 22, 2007 18:16 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

Hi,

There are three choices to this question: a, an, and the.

You would not use 'a' because there is reference in the sentence to one particular store 'on fifth street' and so you are specifying this store and using 'the' to indicate that particular store. You use 'an' before a vowel sound and so we say an idea and an opportunity and also an hour. Note the last one. The first letter 'h' is not sounded and so the word 'hour' begins with a vowel sound.

Alan
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How to use the English articles? #3 (permalink) Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:41 am   How to use the English articles?
 

Is it possible that there are several grocery stores on that street?I think it maybe possible.And if this situation exist,the answer "a" is right? Please give me a reasonable answer.Thank you so much.
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Concern #4 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 15:42 pm   Concern
 

Can you please go to ......... grocery store on fifth street and buy 2 cartons of milk?

(a) a
(b) an
(c) the

There is more than one answer to this question. A or C both work. A works since there may be more than 1 grocery store on 5th street. I know you have explained your answer but I am not convinced. Please let me know.

THanks,
Dan
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How to use the English articles? #5 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 15:57 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

Hi Dan,

I see what are driving at. Maybe answer (a) might be grammatically correct but it certainly does not sound natural. It's a rather artificial sentence and since our users want to learn natural English, answer (c) is still by far the best choice.

Regards,
Torsten

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How to use the English articles? #6 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 16:03 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

Hi Dan,

Let me endorse what Torsten has said. The fact that the street is mentioned suggests 'the'. Otherwise the question would simply be a request to buy some milk.

Alan
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How to use the English articles? #7 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 16:09 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

Alan,

I see both of your points, but I don't think that question was phrased very well, maybe that's the issue. You're saying that since you referred to the specific store on "fifth street" that there would only one. However, for those of us(me!) that live in cities(I happen to live in New York City), there could be many grocery stores there. Thanks for your time!

Dan
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How to use the English articles? #8 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 16:34 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

Hi Dan,

If you had any store in mind why would you mention fifth street (or 5th avenue for that matter?) I mean if you didn't care what store to get your milk from why would you mention a particular street in the first place?

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How to use the English articles? #9 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 16:48 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

Maybe the stores on 5th Street are known for their famous milk? Much like 5th Avenue is known for shopping or Arthur Avenue is known for Italian restaurants.

Can you go to _____________ jewelry store on 5th ave and buy a watch? (both a or the could work here, no?)
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How to use the English articles? #10 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 17:26 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

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Hi,

I sense hair splitting! This is a language test and not one about geography!

Alan
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How to use the English articles? #11 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 17:32 pm   How to use the English articles?
 

Dbrass39 wrote:
Maybe the stores on 5th Street are known for their famous milk? Much like 5th Avenue is known for shopping or Arthur Avenue is known for Italian restaurants.

Can you go to _____________ jewelry store on 5th ave and buy a watch? (both a or the could work here, no?)

So you are talking about a fictional city where there is a 5th street which is famous for its various milk stores. Those milk stores sell milk in cartons so it's very likely they are produced for mass distribution through retail outlet chains.

Since I have never heard nor read of such a city the phrase you suggested sounds rather contrived to me.

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language #12 (permalink) Fri Oct 16, 2009 19:11 pm   language
 

I really do appreciate your time. I wonder if a teacher in the US would think the same as you guys. (I'm not suggesting one way is better than another), but I wonder if this question would get answered "incorrectly" more often in another country. I see there is another post from a person that agrees with me (it was posted back in December 08). This is not in regards to geography.
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How to use the English articles? #13 (permalink) Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:07 am   How to use the English articles?
 

I agree that 'the' would be more expected, but the argument for 'a' is a valid one. The question really needs to be changed to avoid this ambiguity. Perhaps is should read:

Can you please go to ......... grocery store on the corner and buy 2 cartons of milk?
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How to use the English articles? #14 (permalink) Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:44 am   How to use the English articles?
 

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Hi Dan,

I may well be accused of getting out of the bed the wrong side this morning but I have to offer a mild protest against a tendency recently to argue the toss for the sake of it. Let's get this into perspective and both bear in mind those for whom English is a second or foreign language and also remember that this test question is taken from an elementary test to highlight the basic difference between the use of 'a' and 'the'. This isn't a test that I have written so I can approach it, I hope, objectively. The purpose of the test is to show that 'the' is generally specific and 'a' isn't. Let's imagine this conversation:

A I'd like you to buy two cartons of milk at a grocery store.
B Any particular grocery store?
A Yes, the one on fifth street.
B Do you mean the street in New York City?
A No, I'd like the cartons today, please.

Let the wretched test rest in peace.

Alan
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