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Please read:

a.The government has pointed out the bad effect certain drugs have on people and has decided to effect new laws to restrict the sale of these drugs. (1)

b.The government has pointed out that certain drugs have a bad effect on people and has decided to effect new laws to restrict the sale of these drugs. (2)

Please explain me why in (1), the article is the, but in (2), the article is a?

Can I use a in (1) and the in (2)? Why?

Quoc
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Hi,

Articles are tricky to explain, as well as to understand, as I'm sure you realize. I'm just going to try to explain how I think about each of these sentences.

a.The government has pointed out the bad effect certain drugs have on people and has decided to effect new laws to restrict the sale of these drugs. (1) The use of 'the' tells me that these drugs only have one specific bad effect. You can say 'a', but that will tell me that there is more than one such effect and this is just one of them.

b.The government has pointed out that certain drugs have a bad effect on people and has decided to effect new laws to restrict the sale of these drugs. (2) 'A' tells me it's the first time the writer has mentioned ths bad effect. 'The' would tell me it has been mentioned before, earlier in this writing. However, 'the bad effect' in this context seems like 'ugly English', so most people would say it another way if that was their meaning, eg 'this bad effect'.


Please explain me why in (1), the article is the, but in (2), the article is a?

Can I use a in (1) and the in (2)? Why?

Best wishes, Clive
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It is quite common for a to change to the when a relative clause follows. That's because the relative clause specifies something about the preceding noun, making it definite.

I drank a glass of milk. (We don't know or care which glass of milk.)
(Judy brought me) the glass of milk that I drank. (Which glass of milk is specified.)

Maria wrote a letter. (We don't know or care which letter.)
(Thomas read) the letter that Maria wrote. (Which letter is specified.)

Certain drugs have a bad effect on people. (We don't know or care which bad effect.)
(The government has pointed out) the bad effect (that) drugs have on people. (Which bad effect is specified.)

CJ