a majority of vs. the majority of

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ordinarydaniel

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello,
Is there any difference between "a majority of" and "the majority of"?

Below is a sentence from NYTimes:
"For the first time in half a century, a majority of Americans say that the U.S. should be less engaged in world affairs, according to the most recent Pew Research Center survey."
Source: Opinion | The Leaderless Doctrine

Can I use "the majority of" instead of "a majority of" in this sentence?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You change the meaning (or certainly the emphasis) if you switch to the definite article.

    For the first time …, a majority of Americans say
    = this is the first time that more people have said this than have said the opposite

    For the first time …, the majority of Americans say
    = this is the first time that most Americans have said this
     
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