A threat of legal action [A?]


Senior Member
India- hindi
The book was halted in South Africa by a threat of legal action.

I saw the above example sentence in Cambridge online dictionary.

please explain to me the use of indefinite article "a" before the phrase "of legal action"?

I thought we should use "the" when it is followed by "of phrase" which makes the reference specific?

  • Jignesh77

    Senior Member
    India- hindi
    Thanks. In all your examples, the nouns are used in general sense so should we not use "a"? I am sorry I am still confused. I know the basic rules or articles.


    Senior Member
    British English
    Sorry if I confused you. I've deleted my post because I see it doesn't answer your question properly. I can reinstate it if you wish. The a goes with threat and not with (of) legal action.
    I take your point. The a makes it sounds as though a particular person has threatened legal action. So I wouldn't say a threat was grammatically wrong.
    The threat suggests a general possibility of legal action. You're not thinking of a particular legal action. Perhaps the book offended against the censorship laws and the publisher feared he might be prosecuted at some point.
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