a (an) or the

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piggy94

Banned
Korean&English
Do I have to add a(an) or the in the following sentence? In some sentences, I find a, but in other sentences, I find ' the'. Which one is correct?

He violated the rule for a ( or the?) second time.
He got divorced for a( or the?) third time.
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    You need an article , but after reading them, it seems to me there is little difference between the meanings with a or the. I think this is because the ordinal number carries sufficient specificity that it makes the choice of article moot.
     

    piggy94

    Banned
    Korean&English
    You need an article , but after reading them, it seems to me there is little difference between the meanings with a or the. I think this is because the ordinal number carries sufficient specificity that it makes the choice of article moot.
    SO, do you mean that is doesn't matter whether I put a or the in front ot second/or third time?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I can't think of a context where it would make much difference! Can you propose one?
    I think when you go beyond "the first time" the nuance become very subtle. Perhaps when you use the, it would be when you are listing all the times and giving details about each speific case. When you use a, it might be expressing mild surprise that there are so many. But I'm stretching to find a difference :D
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Or, "I want to know about the third time you got divorced" - but these are different sentence structures where the choice is important to the sense.

    Context, context, context :D
     
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