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The other day I explained the difference between definite and indefinite articles to a student, saying that "the" was specific (ex. the dog barked) and "a, an" non-specifc (eg. I want a dog). So, the next day he made a comment like "My car got stuck in the puddle", and I corrected him saying "your car got stuck in a puddle". He said no, "the" puddle, because it was a specific puddle that he got stuck in, not just any puddle. His reasoning sounded good to me, so why is it "a" instead of "the"? Help!!!
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Comments  (Page 3) 
It sounds like he gets a kick out of challenging you. Telling him that there are not hard and fast rules (e.g. "go to the theater" vs. "go to a coffee shop", why?) and that he should copy you might be the best thing.
Yes, de does, but not with bad intentions. He's a computer guy, and he likes things to make sense and be logical. Also, he has a lot on the line, because at his job they want to give him the full time position (with benefits, etc. He's free lance now), and they gave him 6 months to get his English into shape. Of course, being a busy guy, he doesn't have a lot of time to do homework, and although he seems to do really well with excercises, as soon as it comes time to put them into practice, he "forgets", and goes back to his old ways! It's been a month so far, three private classes a week. I hope to see some progress soon (as I'm sure he does!).
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Hi everyone,

I am not a native speaker of english, and I don't live in a country where english is the native tongue. I still have a major issue with articles.

Can you please tell me are these correct ( and if it's not too much to ask, elabore why):

1. Where is Alen? He is gone to school. ( no article at all before SCHOOL?)
2. Where were you yesterday evening? I went to the gym. ( not everyone goes to a gym, unlike the bank, so why 'THE'?)
3. We are all aware of how important customer service is in business.
( I figure that perhaps there is no article THE next to BUSINESS since we are talking about business in general, not a particular business like the telco business or the F&B business?, but what about CUSTOMER SERVICE, should there be an article?)

thank you very much,
Dalil.
Hi,

If I was walking down the street and fell into a puddle, I would murmur, "I fell into the puddle" but if I was talking to a friend afterward, I would say, "I fell into a puddle" because I surmise?? that he do not know which one.

Am I right on my reasoning?

Also,

1) should I place any periods for the sentences in quotations, eg. "I fell into the puddle"?

2) Is the word "surmise" right in that context?
If I was walking down the street and fell into a puddle, I would murmur, "I fell into the puddle" but if I was talking to a friend afterward, I would say, "I fell into a puddle" because I surmise?? that he do not know which one.

If I was walking down the street and fell into a puddle, I would murmur, "I fell into the puddle," but if I was talking to a friend afterwards, I would say, "I fell into a puddle" because I would surmise that he did not know which one. (surmise is OK.)

You can say a or the in either case. It depends what is in your head, so to speak, that is, how you are thinking of the puddle. Is it a puddle that the other person knows about? No? Then you should use a puddle. Yes? Then you should use the puddle if you wish to specific which puddle to your listener, but you can use a puddle if which puddle is unimportant to either or both of you or if you wish to hide from the listener that it was that particular puddle you fell into (for whatever reason).

Remember: the answers the question which? for the listener. If the doesn't or can't answer the question which? for the listener, then it should not be used. The listener may be able to answer the question which? by the words of the sentence

the girl I introduced you to yesterday (Which girl is explained in words.)
the coat that Joseph gave to his wife
(Which coat is explained in words.)

OR by the situation he is experiencing

the sunset is beautiful (to someone admiring the sunset) (Which sunset is explained by the situation - the sunset that the listener is admiring.)
the music is too loud (to someone playing his radio too loud) (Which music is explained by the situation - the music that is being played loudly.)

OR by the memory of a previous situation that he experienced.

I paid the bill. (to someone with whom you had previously discussed a particular bill that had to be paid) (Which bill is explained by a previous experience or conversation involving a particular bill.)
Where is the car? (to someone who had been using your car, or to someone who just said he had bought a new car) (Which car is explained by a previous situation or remark involving a particular car.)

CJ
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Hello, you have to use "the" in specific things or in things that you know. When you use "a" is in indefinite things. For example: "I like the black cat", in this cases I know the cat and I am specifying the cat, on other hand, if I say "I like a black cat" may be any cat and I am not specifying in the cases that you exposed, I believe that is depend of the context of the sentences, because if you stay in the place and you indicate "the puddle" , that is right, because is the specific puddle, but if you only tell, without stay in the place , you have to say "a puddle" because may be any puddle.