a/the second cup of coffee

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cointi

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

I'm telling someone about my rut in the office.

At one o'clock I have lunch and <a/the> second cup of coffee.

I think that both are acceptable, but the definite article suggests that I always have the same number of cups of coffee in a day and the indefinite article suggests that I have various number of cups of coffee in a day. What do you think?
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Normally, you'd use "a", unless you have already mentioned the number of cups. For example:

    "I have rationed myself to only three cups of coffee a day. At one o'clock I have lunch and the second cup of coffee."
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think you mean routine: 'rut'* suggests something very different!:eek:

    Your sentence sounds odd with the definite article. I'd only say 'the second cup' if I had already been talking about how many cups I have during the day.



    * WRF Dictionary:

    rut2 /rʌt/ n., v., rut•ted, rut•ting.
    n. [countable; usually singular]
    1. Animal Husbandry: the period of year or time when deer, goats, etc., are sexually excited.
     

    cointi

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you, Keith and london calling.

    Does 'rut' meaning a fixed way of proceeding, usually dull or unpromising (WRF dictionary) not work in this sentence?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Thank you, Keith and london calling.

    Does 'rut' meaning a fixed way of proceeding, usually dull or unpromising (WRF dictionary) not work in this sentence?
    If you say, "my life's in a rut," that's the way it would be understood.
    The way you used it, my reaction was the same as London Calling's.:rolleyes:
    The moral is, "don't mess with idioms."
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think your choices in that sentence and scenario are "a second cup" and "my second cup".

    If you say "my second cup" it sounds much more like something you do every day.
     
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