two definite articles together

Discussion in 'English Only' started by MaximuS.111, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    Hey! Could you please guys help me with the following?
    I assume in the sentence below the noun is section, whereas Reading and Listening are adjectives modifying the noun.
    This strategy is related to the Reading and Listening sections.
    So there is no need to use the definite article 'the' two times - to the Reading and the Listening sections?Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Reding and listening are gerunds (nouns) adjectivally modifying sections, I believe. I agree with you about the definite article.
     
  3. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    The reason for duplication is to distinguish between the Reading and Listening sections (several sections all devoted to reading+listening) and the Reading and the Listening sections (two sections, one devoted to reading and the other to listening).
     
  4. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    boozer, Keith Bradford, thanks for droppying by!
    I didn't understand your comment, could you please elaborate on it?
    Thanks in advance!
     
  5. abda2405 Senior Member

    Russian
    Wait... I got something wrong... Keith means, if you put one the it means that there are many or several sections that work with listening and reading, if you put 2 the's then it means there are only two sections for each listening and reading. And actually, you'd better wait for Keith himself to explain it to you:) and for you:).
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  6. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    If "the" precedes an "-ing" word, then that "-ing" word is a noun (gerund, going by traditional grammar terminology) and not an adjective (participle). We know this because "the" is a syntactic marker of nouns. Good, bad and ugly are adjectives, but in the famous movie "the good, the bad, and the ugly," they are nouns. So, "the" turns an adjective into a noun. The same is true of other "determiners," which, like "the," also mark "reading" as a noun: your reading of the situation is wrong; that reading of the will was unusual. In the reading and listening sections and in the reading and the listening sections, it could be that there are two sections, one devoted to "reading" and the other to "listening." In the first instance, the second "the" is dropped to avoid repeating the word (but "the" applies to "listening" as well). However, it could also mean that there are several sections, all devoted to reading + listening (as Keith Bradford said). Only context will tell us if there are two sections or several sections. In the reading section and the listening section, we know that there are just two sections, one for "reading," the other for "listening." There is now no ambiguity.
    Cheers
     
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    SevenDays is right. We can only know about, or be confused by, possible ambiguity from the context - in the OP no context was given, so there can be no definite answer.

    Below are two such contexts.

    There is a newspaper that has a "Reading and listening" section every week. There can be multiple such sections.
    We are talking about a different newspaper that has two sections, one called reading and the other called listening.
     
  8. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    This is absolutely false.

    "The driving force behind this decision was Carol's vision..."
    "The burning bush spoke to Moses..."
    "The failed author fell into obscurity..."

    Compare to "The bad thing about Carol's vision was that it didn't plan for..."

    Adjectives and participles and all sorts of modifiers can obviously follow "the." However, nouns can also modify other nouns, which is what is going on here (the news media, the gun show).

    What we know is that the section itself is not "reading" or "listening." That's why these are not participles in this sentence: because this is a "section about [the act of reading]," not a "section [that is reading/that reads]." Here we have gerunds, modifying "sections," in the same way that the noun "review" modifies "section" in "review sections."

    Let's look at a simpler case:

    Get out the red and the blue cups / Get out the red and blue cups

    With "the red and the blue," I understand "Get out the red cup and the blue cup." The double "the" makes it clear that there's only one red and only one blue cup. With "the red and blue," I understand "the set of cups that are either red or blue." It doesn't limit the number of "red and blue cups": it could be two cups, it could be two dozen cups - the same as with "the nice cups" (no number is specified).

    In a test, the number of sections is finite, so there's no need to say "the reading and the listening sections." Using only one "the" is the most natural way to express this.

    We don't need to consider gerunds or participles, or invent rules that might be wrong or confusing, to solve the problem here.
     
  9. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    What's absolutely false?
    That "the" is a syntactic marker of nouns?
    The OP asked if "reading" and "listening" in the reading and listening sections are adjectives. Let's start with "the reading." Is reading an adjective? What I said was that, as a matter of syntax, "the" marks "reading" as a noun, just as "the" marks "bad" as a noun in "the bad." That's all. I deliberately said that "the" is a syntactic marker of nouns. Is that absolutely false? Your approach is different; it is based on meaning. After all, you say what we know is that the section itself is not "reading" or "listening. That's why they are not participles . . ." That's fine. It may be a better approach; it may help the OP best to think in terms of meaning rather than syntax, but that hardly renders what I said absolutely false.

    Cheers
     
  10. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    No it doesn't.

    Perhaps "the" marks "reading" as a noun in a phrase like "the reading from Deuteronomy," where we can tell that "reading" is a noun because it's got an article attached to it. But it does no such thing in the phrase "the reading and listening sections." For starters, "the" has nothing to do with "reading" in that sentence; it's the article linked to "sections."

    If we assume that your reasoning is correct about the structure of this phrase, then "the" would mark "first" and "third" as nouns in the phrase "the first and third sections." If we assume that your reasoning is correct in general, then "the" would mark "driving" as a noun in the phrase "the driving force behind this decision." That is clearly not the case. Ergo, your reasoning cannot be correct.

    The point is that you gave a rule, stated with no caveats, that is patently false - "if 'the' comes before a word, then that word is a noun." I gave counter-examples to show that the rule was completely absurd, to which you haven't responded. We have to be careful not to confuse learners and all the other people who use this forum!

    To summarize: in this case "reading" is a noun - a gerund - modifying "section," which is itself another noun. The entire noun phrase "reading section" is taking the article "the," not the gerund "reading" (which at the moment is acting as a modifier and is thus unable to take articles).
     
  11. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Stop arguing about parts of speech, they're irrelevant.

    The Reading and the Listening sections means that there are Reading Sections and there are separate Listening Sections.

    The Reading and Listening sections suggests (but does not prove) that there are sections devoted to reading and listening both together. This raises an ambiguity. Good writers who wish to avoid ambiguity will find a method of making their meaning clear. For example, they may write The Reading-and-Listening sections which makes the "reading and listening both together" explicit.
     
  12. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    Yes. I agree entirely and in detail with this explanation. :):thumbsup:
     
  13. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    Hmm. I couldn't see the a source on any of the above...was there a source? I don't think so. Please could you name your source, MaximuS.111.
     
  14. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I'd be happy if the OP specified context, too :D
     
  15. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    Good morning, everyone! :)
    Sorry for not providing the context which led to the ambiguity. And thanks for being willing to explain the matter under such conditions!
    However, due to this ambiguity and the disscustion between lucas-sp and SevenDays stemming from it, I've clarified for myself some side points concerning parts of speech. :) Thank you guys!
    The source is the article I'm writing (please note, I'm not a native speaker trying to be at least decent at writing in English) about the TOEFL test, which has only one Reading and one Listening section.
    Thanks to Keith Bradford, now it is clear to me that to avoid misunderstanding I will have to use the Reading and the Listeningsection (not sections) construction.
    Since there is a difference, or I assume that, between using section and sections it makes me wonder how you guys would interpret the following - the Reading and Listening section? As 'there is only one section in the test which includes reading and listeining activities'?
    Thanks in advance!
     
  16. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    it makes me wonder how you guys would interpret the following - the Reading and Listening section? As 'there is only one section in the test which includes reading and listeining activities'?

    Well certainly. If you say section (in the singular) there can be only one, therefore both adjectives must refer to it. Compare "the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag".
     
  17. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    Thank you! :)

    Best of luck,
    M
     

Share This Page