A ship VS The ship in picture description

Mack&Mack

Senior Member
Korea & Korean
Hello helpers,

Are both "A ship is sailing" and "The ship is sailing on sea" okay in picture description? There is only one ship sailing on the sea in the picture.

If both are okay could you tell me which one is more common? =)

Thanks in advance. =)
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    For a caption on a picture, I would expect to see "A ship sailing on the sea", unless there is some particular relationship to the ship established, such as in an accompanying story.

    If it is a picture with no story, "a ship" makes more sense than "the ship", since "the ship" raises the question "which ship?" in English speakers' minds. "A ship" just means "some unknown ship". :)

    For descriptive captions, the verb is often left out ("is"). The caption is just a descriptive phrase, not a complete sentence.
     

    Mack&Mack

    Senior Member
    Korea & Korean
    Oh my gosh!!!

    I told my students both "A ship is sailing on the sea." and "The ship is saling on the sea." are okay. I actually said I'd use "the ship" because we all know which ship we are talking about. There was only one ship sailing in the picture. There is no story with it.

    Is there any chance you would use "The ship is sailing on the sea."??

    What should I do now? I'm in trouble. :(

    Whenever I give them wrong information, I feel so guilty.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    When you refer to a ship that you know, by its name, the caption if not, "A ship is...", should really only read "The ship, {name of ship} is sailing on the sea."

    My personal criticism is the use of phrase, "on the sea". It sounds somewhat infantile, and an improvement would be to say simply: "A ship is at sea". In this instance, it would not be unacceptable for the caption to read: "The ship is at sea".

    I hope that helps calm your fears!
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Oh my gosh!!!

    I told my students both "A ship is sailing on the sea." and "The ship is saling on the sea." are okay. I actually said I'd use "the ship" because we all know which ship we are talking about. There was only one ship sailing in the picture. There is no story with it.

    Is there any chance you would use "The ship is sailing on the sea."??

    What should I do now? I'm in trouble. :(

    Whenever I give them wrong information, I feel so guilty.
    My motto: Not only is anything worth doing worth doing wrong, anything worth doing is impossible to do perfectly.

    "The ship" is not wrong, but "A ship" might be a better choice for the reason James gives.
     

    Mack&Mack

    Senior Member
    Korea & Korean
    Thank you, sllopjc for your concern and criticism.

    Anyway, I'll have to tell them "I was wrong". And your reply certainly helped calm my fears.

    Thank you again. =)
     
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