a 400 acre farm

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
the
If you want to refer to a whole family or to a married couple, you can make their surname into a plural and use the in front of it.
...a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens...
Collins Cobuild

E.g: I'm showing someone environs: "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens."
But there are a lot of farms around. What will this phrase mean - all the farms around are "400 acre farms", or they can have different areas and the indefinite article just modifies "farm"?
Thank you.
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens." means that the Allens own more than one such farm, and this is one of them.

    "This is the 400 acre farm owned by the Allens." means that the Allens own one such farm, and this is it. They could, however, own any number of other farms, but none of the others is 400 acres.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    the
    If you want to refer to a whole family or to a married couple, you can make their surname into a plural and use the in front of it.
    ...a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens...
    Collins Cobuild

    E.g: I'm showing someone environs: "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens."
    But there are a lot of farms around. What will this phrase mean - all the farms around are "400 acre farms", or they can have different areas and the indefinite article just modifies "farm"?
    Thank you.
    400-acre modifies farm, so saying "This is a 400-acre farm owned by the Allens" doesn't imply anything about the surrounding farms.

    This structure could also be used if the Allens own more than one farm, and the one under discussion happens to be 400 acres. It doesn't have to mean that, though, so I'm disagreeing slightly with Heypresto.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens." means that the Allens own more than one such farm, and this is one of them.
    I don't read it that way. I read it as saying that there are many farms. This one is 400 acres in size and it's owned by the Allens. We have no idea whether the Allens have additional farms. Neither can we infer anything about other farms in the area.

    My reasoning behind the above is my own back yard. It's not unusual for friends to refer to a "40-acre tree farm owned by the Grahams."

    We only have one property.
    There are many tree farms in the area.
    Ours happens to be 40 acres in size.

    I look for comments for others here. (I'd like to say "farm it out to the group" :))
     
    Last edited:

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    400-acre modifies farm, so saying "This is a 400-acre farm owned by the Allens" doesn't imply anything about the surrounding farms.

    This structure could also be used if the Allens own more than one farm, and the one under discussion happens to be 400 acres. It doesn't have to mean that, though, so I'm disagreeing slightly with Heypresto.
    :thumbsup: I'm agreeing slightly with JustKate. ;)


    As an aside, 'I'm showing someone environs' should be 'I'm showing someone around.' :)


    Cross-posted.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I don't read it that way. I read it as saying that there are many farms. This one is 400 acres in size and it's owned by the Allens. We have no idea whether the Allens have additional farms.

    My reasoning behind the above is my own back yard. It's not unusual for friends to refer to a "40-acre tree farm owned by the Grahams."

    We only have one property.
    There are many tree farms in the area.
    Ours happens to be 40 acres in size.

    I look for comments for others here. (I'd like to say "farm it out to the group :))
    I agree. "A 400-acre farm" implies that there is more than one farm, but it doesn't say anything about whether those other farms are 400 acres or some other size, and it also doesn't imply anything about how many farms the Allens own.

    (...trying...really...hard...to...avoid...saying...another...farming...pun...)

    (Cross-posted with Heypresto)
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I'm a little confused as to who agrees with whom and to what degree, but I agree entirely (I think) with SDGraham (post #4). That is: This is a 400-acre farm owned by the Allens. is a perfectly fine sentence (with the hyphen I've added). It simply gives the size and ownership of the farm under discussion. It says nothing at all about other property, if any, owned by the Allens. Nor does it say anything about any other farms, or indeed whether there are any other farms. It could be the only farm on the face of the earth; the sentence would still be grammatically (and, indeed, factually) valid.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Nor does it say anything about any other farms, or indeed whether there are any other farms. It could be the only farm on the face of the earth; the sentence would still be grammatically (and, indeed, factually) valid.
    So, the sentence just submits to "countable/uncountable noun" rules, the "400-acre farm" can be any countable noun, "400-acre" doesn't matter.
    This is the 400-acre farm owned by the Allens. (I mentioned it before)
    This is a 400-acre farm owned by the Allens
    . (we're looking at the farm and I give some information about it)
    Am I right?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Yes, '400-acre' is simply adjectival: This is the large farm owned by the Allens. / This is a large farm owned by the Allens.It is to be hoped that the context will tell us if the Allens have other farms or not.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Ah, the comma. If only we could use it here.

    Aren't we just talking about the difference between:
    A) "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens."
    and:
    B) "This is a 400 acre farm, owned by the Allens."
    (A) contains a restrictive phrase, which does tell me (in fact) that the Allens own several 400-acre farms, and this is one of them. But (B) has a non-restrictive phrase, so it just tells me that this is a 400-acre farm, and that this farm is also owned by the Allens.

    But since the sentences are so short, we wouldn't naturally mark the pause in (B) in speech, and so it might not show up in writing. Actually, to have the comma might seem pretentious or pedantic to some readers. So it's more natural to omit the comma and create the ambiguity between (A) and (B) - and to allow the context to decide how many 400-acre farms the Allens own.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    You and I usually agree on punctuation, Lucas (and a number of other things as well), but not this time, alas. I just don't see that the comma makes much difference here.

    I understand the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive phrases, but all the comma in A tells me is that the fact that this particular farm is 400 acres and is owned by the Allens is what identifies it. The farm in A is characterized by these two things. But there is nothing there to indicate that that there are other farms (400 acres or some other size) owned by the Allens or that there are not. It's a restrictive phrase but we can't tell why that information is key to identifying this specific farm without more context. Or perhaps I should say that I can't tell why. :)
     

    Oahawhool

    Member
    New Jersey 70's English
    It's a tough question because I think we aren't understanding what he's trying to figure out.

    If I were a tour guide near Bill Gates home, and I was driving a tourist around,
    'I would drive past a 400acre farm Bill owned and say 'on the left is one of Bill's 400 acre farms, on the other side is one of his 800 acre farms.'
    We could drive down the road and I might say 'on the left is two of his 400 acre farms and on the right are two more of his farms, i think one is 400 acres and one is only 200 acres'
    'Bill owns alot of farms in town, most are about 400 acres, some are 800 acres, but, most are 200 acres, he has a lot of those.'
    Does that help?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    When I read the example, I didn't imagine more than one farm:

    A man decides he wants to buy a farm and goes to a realtor (AE?)/estate agent (BE). The estate agent shows him a selection and gives a description of each and then takes him to view a selection.

    As they approach the first farm, the estate agent says, "This is a 300 acre farm owned by the Smiths; it’s mostly arable."

    They drive on to the next and the estate agent says, "This is a 200 acre farm owned by the Griswalds; it’s mostly dairy."

    They drive on to the next farm and, finally, aware that VikNikSor has asked a question, the estate agent says, "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens; it’s mostly fruit."

    In all cases, a or the can be used. And the expansion of the ‘a’ sentence would be: "This [farm] is a 400 acre farm. [It is] owned by the Allens; it’s mostly fruit."

    The expansion of the ‘the’ sentence would be: "This [farm] is the 400 acre farm [that I told you about back in the office]. [It is] owned by the Allens; it’s mostly fruit."
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    They drive on to the next farm and, finally, aware that VikNikSor has asked a question, the estate agent says, "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens; it’s mostly fruit."
    In all cases, a or the can be used. And the expansion of the ‘a’ sentence would be: "This [farm] is a 400 acre farm. [It is] owned by the Allens; it’s mostly fruit."
    "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens; it’s mostly fruit." The agent is using "400 acre" as additional information to what he is saying.
    "This farm is a 400 acre farm. It is owned by the Allens; it’s mostly fruit." The agent is emphasizing that this farm belongs to a type of 400 acre farms.
    Right?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    There is no "type of 400 acre farm" It just happens to be a farm with 400 acres of land. It could have had 410 acres, or 1,309 acres. In Europe we would say that it is a 162 hectare farm.

    A dairy farm, arable farm or a fruit farm are types of farm.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    There is no "type of 400 acre farm" It just happens to be a farm with 400 acres of land. It could have had 410 acres, or 1,309 acres. In Europe we would say that it is a 162 hectare farm.

    A dairy farm, arable farm or a fruit farm are types of farm.
    I should have used quotation marks for "type of 400 acre farms":). I meant that in the sentence "This farm is a 400 acre farm." the part "is a 400 acre farm" is the compound nominal predicate that describes what kind of farms this particular farm is ("a 400 acre farm"), while the subject just tells us what this is ("a farm"). But in the sentence "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens" the predicate is "a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens" and this tell us that the "thing" we are looking at is a farm, is a 400 acre farm, and is owned by the Allens (that is, the subject doesn't tell us that this thing is a farm).
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Ah! I see. I must admit that I misunderstood. (I did mention in #10 that '400 acre' was adjectival, which is shorthand for "the compound nominal predicate". :))

    If you omit '400 acre' and say "This is a farm owned by the Allens.", you are, in fact saying, "This is the Allens' farm." But even that is ambiguous: who are the Allens? Does the entire family really own it or just Mr Allen Senior? Perhaps whoever works on and lives the farm merely rents it but it is owned by a company called "The Allens Group Inc."?

    Adding '400 acre' also causes ambiguity. As we have seen above,
    '400 acre' creates a distinct type of farm and opens the possibility that there might be more farms of other sizes owned by the Allens or it may simply be non-defining information.

    The original question was simply about
    ...a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens... a phrase given as an example to show the plural use of a proper noun. As an example it is OK. Speculation as to who owns the farm and how many other farms that person (or persons) own (if any) is a testament to the need for context before trying to explain something. :)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian

    The original question was simply about
    ...a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens... a phrase given as an example to show the plural use of a proper noun. As an example it is OK. Speculation as to who owns the farm and how many other farms that person (or persons) own (if any) is a testament to the need for context before trying to explain something. :)
    I tried to add to the original question a little context, though: "E.g: I'm showing someone environs: "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens. But there are a lot of farms around. But this turned out to be not enough to know exhaustive information about the owner:D
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    "E.g: I'm showing someone environs: "This is a 400 acre farm owned by the Allens. But there are a lot of farms around.
    In informal terms, = "The Allens have one farm, this is it, and it is 400 acres in size." (However, if you are thinking of buying it, get a lawyer to ask the questions. :thumbsup:)
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Farms tend not to be in towns. In towns you might come across allotments.
    Now that depends... I have lived in many a town that has farms within the town boundaries... . I have lived in a few houses on the edge of the built up town looking out overs fields/farms that are within the town boundaries.

    A town is basically only an area within lines drawn on a map. There are charters, maps and or other legal documents defining the boundaries of the town and many other things

    GF..

    And the legal status will vary from country to country....
     
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