"A son of" and "the son of"

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gingeralle

Member
Mandarin
Hello everyone,

If people say he is the son of John and Mary, does it imply that John and Mary only have one child? And similarly if people say he is a son of John and Mary, does it suggest that they have more than one children?

Thanks a lot~
 
  • dadane

    Senior Member
    English-London
    Yes. It's not really a sentence I would use in everyday speech though, I'd say 'he's John and Mary's son' (or 'He's John and Mary's only son, or He's one of John and Mary's sons).
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'The' doesn't have to imply uniqueness here. I was trying to think of a real example, and here's one: you might not have heard of the film-maker Eduardo Ponti, but it's significant if I tell you he's the son of Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti. (And in fact he's not the only son, but there's no need to say 'a'.)
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    'The' doesn't have to imply uniqueness here. I was trying to think of a real example, and here's one: you might not have heard of the film-maker Eduardo Ponti, but it's significant if I tell you he's the son of Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti. (And in fact he's not the only son, but there's no need to say 'a'.)
    I wonder why "the" doesn't imply that they have only one son. I thought it was like this:

    He is the son Sophia. (He is Sophia's son)
    He is a son of Sophia's. (He is one of the sons of Sophia.)
     
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