a/the blanket

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Phoebe1200

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
The Thundermans, TV show
Context: The son, Billy, shows up to dinner covered in a blanket.

Mom: Billy, why are you wearing a/the blanket?

I think that both can be used here but I need your help in understanding what the difference would be between the two in this context.
 
  • Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    "A blanket" is the natural choice here, meaning that he's wrapped in some blanket that he's picked up.

    "The blanket" would only be used if his mother was referring to a specific blanket, for example if there was only one blanket in the house, or if he'd been wearing a particular blanket that had been kept aside for something, or if it was specific in some other way.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Thank you, Barque.:)

    Also, "the" could refer to just the blanket that belongs to their family, that they have in their house, right?
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Do you mean that there is only one blanket in the house? If so, yes, you could use "the", but not if there are several.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Do you mean that there is only one blanket in the house? If so, yes, you could use "the", but not if there are several.
    Thank you. I was wondering that.:)

    So in the OP, the reason for the use of "a" is just because they presumably have several blankets at the house?
    Or is it some other reason?
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Thanks.:)

    I just thought maybe the reason for "a" in the OP aside from several blankets could be that the mother simply wants to know why he's wearing a blanket at dinner and it doesn't matter how many blankets they actually have, you know, asking generally.
    I hope you understand what I'm trying to ask here because I don't know if I explained it well.:)
     
    Last edited:

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Yes, that is the reason. And because many families have more than one blanket in the house, "a" fits better than "the".

    "A blanket" could also be used if there was only one blanket in the house.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    I agree that "a" is more likely, but "Why are you wearing the blanket?" sounds fine to me as well, and does not necessarily imply that there is only one blanket available.

    The speaker might use "the" in the same way we would say "What's with the blanket?" It simply refers to the particular blanket the person is wearing.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I agree that "a" is more likely, but "Why are you wearing the blanket?" sounds fine to me as well, and does not necessarily imply that there is only one blanket available.

    The speaker might use "the" in the same way we would say "What's with the blanket?" It simply refers to the particular blanket the person is wearing.
    :thumbsup:I was going to say that too:D

    So Phoebe, whether there's one blanket in the house or several ones, you could use A, or THE.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    I did not say that it necessarily implies that there is only one blanket available. I mentioned that as an example of a situation in which "the" might be used.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Do you mean that there is only one blanket in the house? If so, yes, you could use "the", but not if there are several.
    I was disagreeing with this statement.

    "Why are you wearing the blanket?" would sound fine to me even if there were several blankets in the house.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think in BE it would be a bit unusual (but not impossible) to use the definite article there.

    These would come more naturally to me:
    Billy, why are you wearing a blanket?
    Billy, what are you doing with that blanket?

    Billy, what's with the blanket?
    (My idea of how a speaker of AE would say it):D
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I've just re-read the thread and see now that my idea of "how a speaker of AE would say it" is correct (post #9).:thumbsup:;)

    Also "Why the blanket?"
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, at least in AE, I think the main choices would be between a and that.
    -- Why are you wearing a blanket?
    -- Why are you wearing that blanket?

    I think "the" in this context would very likely have that extra meaning Florentia mentioned. "What's with the blanket? Why are you being weird?" :)

    Also, keep in mind these can all have various meanings depending on the intonation.
    WHY are you wearing a blanket?
    Why are YOU wearing a blanket?
    Why are you WEARING a blanket?
    Why are you wearing A BLANKET?
     
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