a /the declaration of war

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I'm kind of stuck with the folowing sentence. Which article does the word "declaration" take here:

In this period there came a(?)/the(?) declaration of war between the North and the South.

On one hand, the "there came" takes the indefinite article, on the other hand, there can be only one declaration of war between the two opposing sides.

Thank you.
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    The choice of article depends only on how the noun is to be considered, not on what precedes it: so it is not "there came" that takes a particular article, it's the noun.

    In this sentence either article is possible. "The" would tend to be used if the declaration of war is already understood or known about; possibly it is notable or famous. As you probably know, this distinction is the main use of "the": to distinguish something that is known or understood, and that would be its function here.

    "A declaration" is just any instance of declaring. It may be used to introduce new information: the listener is not regarded as knowing or expected to know about it. The declaration will be referred to by "the" once it has been introduced.
    < Previous | Next >