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Hi. I have some questions about articles.

1. There's an exercise. You have a picture and in this picture there are a few desks, a few chairs, one book, one bag, one blackboard (on the blackboard there is one big pen, it's sketched), there is one door and one window.

In this exercise you're supposed to ask: What's this? And answer: It's a desk etc. In the answer key all the answers use the article "a". What about "one book", "one door", "one window", "one bag" "one blackboard". The answer key says: "What's this?" "It's a bag". "What's this?" "It's a door". etc.

Shouldn't it rather be "It's the bag", "It's the door" "It's the window (instead of: It's a window)?

2. There is another exercise. Similar to the one above. There's a picture. In the picture there are: one teacher, one board, one door, some boys, some girls, two pencils, two pens, two books, two rubbers, a few desks, two bags, two windows.

Answers from the key: the teacher, the board, a window, the door, a girl, a bag, a boy, a chair, a desk, a book, a pencil, a rubber, a pen.

--- I understand that they used "the" because there was only one teacher, door and board, and more than one girls, pencils, books, bags, etc.

However it seems to be contradictory to exercise number one because there's also "one window" and "one door" etc. and the key says "It's a door" and "It' a window" instead of "It's the door" and "It's the window".
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Hi,

1. There's an exercise. You have a picture and in this picture there are a few desks, a few chairs, one book, one bag, one blackboard (on the blackboard there is one big pen, it's sketched), there is one door and one window.

In this exercise you're supposed to ask: What's this? And answer: It's a desk etc. In the answer key all the answers use the article "a". What about "one book", "one door", "one window", "one bag" "one blackboard". Only say 'one' if you want to stress that it's not two, not three, etc. In this case, you don't need to stress that there is just one because everyone can see that it is just one.

The answer key says: "What's this?" "It's a bag". "What's this?" "It's a door". etc.

Shouldn't it rather be "It's the bag", "It's the door" "It's the window (instead of: It's a window)?

This is trickier for me to explain. Let me offer this idea for you to consider. If you say 'It's the bag', it sounds like you want to stress that it's not the door.

eg I point to he bag and say 'Is this the door?'

You answer 'No, it's the bag'.

2. There is another exercise. Similar to the one above. There's a picture. In the picture there are: one teacher, one board, one door, some boys, some girls, two pencils, two pens, two books, two rubbers, a few desks, two bags, two windows.

Answers from the key: the teacher, the board, a window, the door, a girl, a bag, a boy, a chair, a desk, a book, a pencil, a rubber, a pen.

--- I understand that they used "the" because there was only one teacher, door and board, and more than one girls, pencils, books, bags, etc. Yes, that's not a bad explanation. eg in a classroom, we expect there to be a teacher, and only one teacher.



However it seems to be contradictory to exercise number one because there's also "one window" and "one door" etc. and the key says "It's a door" and "It' a window" instead of "It's the door" and "It's the window". It's because we do not have an expectation that a classroom will only have one window.

As I said, these are comments for you to consider. Proper use of articles is hard to learn, and also hard to teach. It takes time. Be patient with yourself.

Clive
Don't pay any attention to that exercise: it doesn't make sense. Whether to use 'a' or 'the' has nothing to do with how many items there are.
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Clive

However it seems to be contradictory to exercise number one because there's also "one window" and "one door" etc. and the key says "It's a door" and "It' a window" instead of "It's the door" and "It's the window". It's because we do not have an expectation that a classroom will only have one window.

And we also don't expect that a classroom will only have one pair of door Emotion: smile?
Hi,

Sometimes it's debatable what we can reasonably expect in a situation.

In a classroom -

I strongly expect one teacher.

I don't strongly expect just one window.

I expect one door, but not very, very strongly.

Clive
Clive Hi,

Sometimes it's debatable what we can reasonably expect in a situation.

In a clasroom -

I strongly expect one teacher.

I don't strongly expect just one window.

I expect one door, but not very, very strongly.

Clive

Clive

It's clearer now. Thanks Clive! Emotion: wink

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NewguestShouldn't it rather be "It's the bag", "It's the door" "It's the window (instead of: It's a window)?
Not necessarily. It doesn't have to be either "a" or "the". It can be either.

However, the question "What's this?" typically means "What is this an example of?" or "What class of things does this belong to?" Moving to the answer side, "It's a bag" typically means "It is an example of a bag" or "It belongs to the class 'bags' ". So the exercise is looking for typical answers to typical questions.

After establishing what sort of thing it is (with "a"), you may wish to ask further questions about it (with "the").

-- What's this?
-- It's a bag. [This establishes a common focus on that bag. Now both speaker and listener know that it is something in the class 'bags' that they are talking about, and which bag they are talking about. They have agreed that 'bag' will be the word they will use to refer to that object.]

-- What color is the bag? [Now neither speaker nor listener can be in doubt about which bag is meant, so "the" is used.]

-- The bag is red.
-- What is in the bag? [Now watch how the same pattern works with "coin".]

-- A coin.
-- Can you please take the coin out of the bag?

CJ
Newguest2. There is another exercise. Similar to the one above. There's a picture. ...

Answers from the key: the teacher, the board,
What's the question? You gave answers, but no question.

If the exercise expects you to know at the start that "This is a teacher; this is a window; this is a door"; and so on, then the first stage of identifying the objects is considered finished, and you can now use "the" as you continue into the second stage of talking about the objects you have already identified.
NewguestI understand that they used "the" because there was only one teacher
No. That's pure coincidence. Even if there's only one of something, you can still use either "a" or "the".

CJ
Hi CJ,

I hesitate about the word 'coincidence'. There's some degree of reasoning behind the choice of an article.

If you show most people a picture of a classroom with a class in progress, point to one of several students, and ask 'Who is this?', the likely answer will be 'That's a student'.

Bt if you do that while pointing to the figure in front at the blackboard, in my opinion you are more likely to hear 'That's the teacher' than 'That's a teacher'.

Best wishes, Clive
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