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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I suggest that "a" is correct since your student had not yet introduced the puddle to you.

One should not use "the" unless it is understood by both people what the specific thing is.

"I got stuck in a puddle."
"How deep was the puddle?"

"I got stuck in the puddle on 5th. You know, the one that they tried to fix last year."

"This is the gun that I'm going to use." = "This is a gun. I'm going to use the gun."

Anyway, by your student's logic, the statement "I want the dog" is vaild as it's not just any dog. Everything is specific to somebody!

Think of "a" as intruducing an object and "the" as referring to an object introduced or commonly known.
...VERY WELL PUT, Ryan!!!

Your post cleared up a problem with articles that I didn't even know I had! Emotion: smile
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Alex, ( I guess you are a man )Emotion: smile

Since I am only talking to you, so clear to the rest of others, why I still said ' a ' man instead of ' the ' ?

Because whenever we use ' the ' , we also try to make comparison in addition to being only be specific on the subjectEmotion: smile or to say so with a purpose.

If I said more about Alex, then it will be ' the man 'Emotion: smile. I guess you are the man who is also a teacherEmotion: smile
Why thank you stevie_b. I'm glad that you found it useful.
Thank you, Ryan!!! I'm am so glad I found this site and so amazed there are so many people willing to answer! I've been living in Mexico for almost 9 years now, and truthfully, my English has gotten pretty rusty and I'm often unsure if what I or my student has said is correct or not! You will definately see more of me here! Thanks again!
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Thank you WHL, but I am the WOMAN who is also a teacher! Emotion: smile
I've made ' a ' poor guess. Emotion: stick out tongue
Is it the only one you have made?
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