A/the beautiful rainbow

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Lun-14

Banned
Hindi
Hi,
rps20171126_160949.jpg


There is a/the beautiful rainbow on the right side of the picture.

Which article should I use - a or the?

I think "the" should be used because there's only one rainbow in the picture. We would use "a" if there were more than one rainbows in the picture.



Thanks a lot
 
Last edited:
  • Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    I'm confused. What about my this understanding:

    I think "the" should be used because there's only one rainbow in the picture. We would use "a" if there were more than one rainbows in the picture.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's like all those sentences you've presumably made your students repeat endlessly, Lun:
    There's a book on the table.
    There's a coat in the cupboard.
    There's a pencil in the pencil-case.

    Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera....
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm sure you understand this:

    In the OP there is a picture. The picture is upside-down. In the picture is a rainbow. The rainbow is beautiful. There are also some children in the picture. One of them is wearing a hat.
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    I'm sure you understand this:

    In the OP there is a picture. The picture is upside-down. In the picture is a rainbow. The rainbow is beautiful. There are also some children in the picture. One of them is wearing a hat.
    Yes, I understand this. Thanks.
    But what would you comment about my understanding in the OP? I've learned that we should use "the" if there's only one thing, and "a" when there's more than one things. When is this understanding applicable and when it is not?
     

    Määränpää

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Yes, I understand this. Thanks.
    But what would you comment about my understanding in the OP? I've learned that we should use "the" if there's only one thing, and "a" when there's more than one things. When is this understanding applicable and when it is not?
    You use "a" the first time you refer to an object that your readers/listeners haven't heard about before.

    In our world, there's only one sun and one moon. Everyone has heard about them. That's why they are always called "the sun" and "the moon". "Look! The sun!"

    In our world, there are many dogs, cats and rainbows. If you think your readers/listeners haven't heard about the individual dog/cat/rainbow that you want to talk about, you use "a" in your first sentence: "Look! A rainbow!"
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    You use "a" the first time you refer to an object that your readers/listeners haven't heard about before.

    In our world, there's only one sun and one moon. Everyone has heard about them. That's why they are always called "the sun" and "the moon". "Look! The sun!"

    In our world, there are many dogs, cats and rainbows. If you think your readers/listeners haven't heard about the individual dog/cat/rainbow that you want to talk about, you use "a" in your first sentence: "Look! A rainbow!"
    Nice explanation, Määränpää!:thumbsup:
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    It is more than unlikely that anything that you have learned is applicable in all circumstances.
    This was what I said in my OP:
    I think "the" should be used because there's only one rainbow in the picture. We would use "a" if there were more than one rainbows in the picture.
    And I said this because of the following Egmont's comment:
    a. Akram is the head if the organization has only one head. He is a head if it has many, such as perhaps an executive committee of three or four people.
    a/the head of an/the organization [post #2]
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    And I said this because of the following comment of Egmont's comment:
    Egmont's comment was made in a different context. Organisations usually have heads. So it it has a single head, he's the head (that an organisation is expected to have).

    A picture doesn't have to have a rainbow in it. If there is one, it's a rainbow at the time of first reference.

    However all pictures are drawn on something, canvas or paper usually, and there's only one of them. So while taking about a picture, you could say "The canvas is frayed" or "The paper is torn".

    Similarly with my above edit to the sentence of yours that I quoted - your sentence made it sound as if there was more than one Egmont.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    1. "Only one, or several" is one reason for choosing "the" or "a".

    2. "This specific thing was talked about in a previous sentence" is another reason for "the", while "first time mentioned" uses "a".

    There are around four or five other rules, describing situations where "the" is used. There is not just one rule.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The use of “There is ...” is why this expression is different from the typical rule of “a = first mention” and “the = known or previously mentioned”.
    There is one rainbow in the picture.
    There are several children in the picture.
    A rainbow is in the picture.
    There is a rainbow in the picture. (See post #2 = there is one).
    Where is the rainbow? The rainbow is in the picture.
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    1. "Only one, or several" is one reason for choosing "the" or "a".

    2. "This specific thing was talked about in a previous sentence" is another reason for "the", while "first time mentioned" uses "a".
    I'm mixing these two rules up in my OP. :mad:
    Could you please clarify things up for me?
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In your OP, it was the first time you mentioned the rainbow. So you'd say 'There is a rainbow . . . '. In a following sentence you could say 'The rainbow is beautiful'.

    Please re-read the thread from the beginning. Perhaps especially post #10.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Just because there's only one of something in a place or someone's possession doesn't mean you must use "the".

    If you have only one car doesn't mean you must say "I have the car." instead of "I have a car."
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The definite article indicates reference to a specific (definite) thing (not necessarily a single thing) that is already known to the reader/listener.
    Anything non-specific (indefinite) is referred to using the indefinite article.

    Here, both mother and child know of the picture, but the child isn't aware that there's a rainbow in it:
    Mum: Look at the rainbow.
    Kid: (peering out of window) What rainbow? I can't see one!
    Mum: The rainbow in the picture I've just hung on your wall. (Mum knows there's a rainbow so uses "the")
    Kid: You didn't you tell me there was a rainbow in the picture! (Kid didn't know there was a rainbow, so uses "a")
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Why, I would, in a special context:)
    You got the message: Yes - but only in a specially contrived context, perhaps while pointing at it, after discussing the picture and answering the question “Where is the rainbow in the picture?” :eek: :eek: Even then there would be a comma or colon after the word rainbow.
    However, the “There” in the OP’s statement is clearly NOT a location.
    There is a/the beautiful rainbow on the right side of the picture.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    You got the message: Yes - but only in a specially contrived context, perhaps while pointing at it, after discussing the picture and answering the question “Where is the rainbow in the picture?” :eek: :eek: Even then there would be a comma or colon after the word rainbow.
    However, the “There” in the OP’s statement is clearly NOT a location.
    I meant the "existence" there too, not the "location" one.

    E.g.: you teacher tells you to draw a picture where you are to depict a rainbow, a sun, a tree, a house, a girl and a boy. So you draw the picture at your home, the next day you show it to the teacher. She takes it and says: Ok, let's see if you've included everything I told you to: there's the rainbow, there's the tree, there's the house ... Hey, but I don't see the girl!"

    "There's the rainbow" here means "I see the rainbow (that I told you to draw)", "it exists in the picture".
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Still contrived context and you would not say the whole OP expression in that context without a pause or comma after picture. Of course, we can say “There’s a rainbow” but unless the teacher had instructed them to draw “a rainbow on the right side of the picture” the “existential there” list explanation doesn’t work.
    But whatever works for you Vic.:)
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Not contrived at all.....

    Teacher: Now, class, pay attention please! Do you remember yesterday, during that rain shower, we all saw a pretty rainbow in the sky? And last night for homework I asked you all to draw an upside-down picture of a moment when you saw something that gave you a nice surprise? Well, just LOOK at what my favourite student has drawn!



    There is the beautiful rainbow on the right side of the picture.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Julian said: No-one, I suspect, would ever say “There is the rainbow in the picture” - would they?

    VicNicSor replied: Why, I would, in a special context:)

    Julian then said: . . . Yes - but only in a specially contrived context, perhaps while pointing at it, after discussing the picture and answering the question “Where is the rainbow in the picture?” :eek: :eek: Even then there would be a comma or colon after the word rainbow. However, the “There” in the OP’s statement is clearly NOT a location.

    In other words, to say 'There is the rainbow in the picture' requires a specially contrived context. And some extra punctuation. It's not the context of your OP.


    As we've all said, in your OP context, you would say 'There is a rainbow . . . '.
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Lingobino in post #23 explained it: The definite article "the" is equivalent to saying "that specific thing", and the indefinite article "a(n)" is equivalent to saying "one example of a certain kind of thing". So when you mention it for the first time you say, "in the picture there is a [one example of the kind of thing we call by the name] rainbow". After pointing that out, in any subsequent reference to it you would say, "the [that specific one which I mentioned previously] rainbow is very beautiful".
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Of course, we can say “There’s a rainbow”
    I'm sorry did you mean you would use "There's a rainbow" in Vic's context in #25?
    E.g.: you teacher tells you to draw a picture where you are to depict a rainbow, a sun, a tree, a house, a girl and a boy. So you draw the picture at your home, the next day you show it to the teacher. She takes it and says: Ok, let's see if you've included everything I told you to: there's the rainbow, there's the tree, there's the house ... Hey, but I don't see the girl!"
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Yes, I understand this. Thanks.
    But what would you comment about my understanding in the OP? I've learned that we should use "the" if there's only one thing, and "a" when there's more than one things. When is this understanding applicable and when it is not?
    If you were to say, "The rainbow in the picture is beautiful" or the "Drawing of the rainbow in the picture is beautiful" then the definite article is appropriate.

    But the "The drawing shows a picture of a rainbow on the wall" . In that case it would call for the indefinite article.
     
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