a book about <the> history of modern art

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YueWei

Senior Member
Mandarin - China
Hi.everyone.
I have seen the following in my grammar book:
1,Do you like Chinese food?
2,I enjoy holidays by the sea.
3,I don't like films that don't have happy endings.
4,someone gave me a book about the history of modern art.

I have understood #1,2,3 but 4,why is there a 'the' before 'history'?
Thanks in advance.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In sentences 1,2,3 the expression in red talks about many things, not one specific thing.

    In 4 there is only one thing: there is only one "history of modern art".
     

    YueWei

    Senior Member
    Mandarin - China
    Hi,dojibear,I'm still comfused.I think "history of modern art" is similar to "Chinese food",because I guess that "history of modern art" is a kind of history,"Chinese food" is a kind of food.:confused:
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    They are similar in one way, which you describe. But that similarity is not part of the rule for when to use "the".

    They are different in other ways.

    "I like Chinese food" means I like 20 of the dishes at 100 different chinese restaurants. It is not talking about 1 dish at 1 restaurant.

    There are not 20 or 100 "histories of art". There is just 1 history. There are many books about that 1 history, as shown by "someone gave me a book about the history of art". If there was only one book about art history, this sentence would say "the book".
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I like history. :tick:
    I like food. :tick:

    I like the history of art. :tick:
    I like the food at Wong's Chinese Restaurant. :tick:

    I like art history. :tick:
    I like Chinese food. :tick:

    Where's the problem?
     

    YueWei

    Senior Member
    Mandarin - China
    There are not 20 or 100 "histories of art". There is just 1 history.
    Sorry,dojibear.I'm afraid it doesn't make sense to me.The reason:I consider that There are 20 or 100 "histories of art",such as:1.the history of Chinese art,2.the history of American art.3.the history of German art. I always think it this way.that's why I couldn't get your reply.
     

    Minnesota Guy

    Senior Member
    American English - USA
    Hi YueWei--

    In the phrase you've mentioned, there is a noun ("history") followed by a phrase that modifies it ("of art"). In those cases, we often (not always) want to use a definite article. especially when the modifying phrase starts with "of". Here's some more about that:

    Aspects of Modern English Usage

    Please note that this applies to modifying phrases that follow the noun, which is why we say "a book on art history", but "a book on the history of art" -- even though they describe the same thing.
     
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