a weight/height/distance of

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
The baby was born at a weight of 3.4 kilos .
to fly at a height of ten thousand feet
The wave here has a length of 250 feet and a height of 10 feet..
the sort of goal which remains in the memory even at a distance of six years
phrases from dictionaries

The words weight, height and distance are countable in these phrases. The indefinite article means "any weight/height/distance", or "one of weights heights or distance". The green words act as descriptive attributes to "weight/height/distance" and so, don't have an effect on the choice of an article. Am I right?
Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    A singular, countable noun requires an article.The indefinite article serves that purpose. If it does not have one, the noun is read as uncountable and the sentence often becomes nonsense.

    "Potato is the staple diet of the Andes. Take potato and cut it in half." :cross:
    "Potato is the staple diet of the Andes. Take a potato and cut it in half." :tick:
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    A singular, countable noun requires an article.The indefinite article serves that purpose. If it does not have one, the noun is read as uncountable and the sentence often becomes nonsense.

    "Potato is the staple diet of the Andes. Take potato and cut it in half." :cross:
    "Potato is the staple diet of the Andes. Take a potato and cut it in half." :tick:
    That means you agree with my explanation?
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    What I meant was:
    The words in green act as adjectives, modifying the words 'weight', 'height' and 'distance'. The words 'weight', 'height' and 'distance' are countable, singular and so take indefinite articles. The indefinite articles here mean "any weight, height or distance". The words in green don't affect the choice of the articles in the sentences.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Oh. I don't think so.
    It doesn't work for your baby example, but:

    On earth, many things do not have a weight.
    I was ordered to fly at a height.
    The wave here, like all waves, has a length and a height but this one also has a speed.
    It is the sort of goal which remains in the memory even at a distance.

    are all correct.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    It doesn't work for your baby example, but
    How does the baby example differ from the rest? I don't understand
    On earth, many things do not have a weight.
    I was ordered to fly at a height.
    The wave here, like all waves, has a length and a height but this one also has a speed.
    It is the sort of goal which remains in the memory even at a distance.
    And how do your examples differ from those from dictionaries except that yours don't have descriptions of the "weight", " height" and "distance"?
    Oh. I don't think so.
    Why? Could you explain?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    How does the baby example differ from the rest? I don't understand
    Because (i) "The baby was born at a weight" is trivial. All babies (born on a planet or other object with gravity) have a weight. (ii) "at a weight of" demands that "a weight" be qualified.

    You can say, "Here, feel this... it's quite a weight, isn't it?" or "It is well balanced and of a good weight.", etc.
    And how do your examples differ from those from dictionaries except that yours don't have descriptions of the "weight", " height" and "distance"?
    I thought that your explanation insisted that weight, height, distance had the indefinite article justified by the description (in green) -> they don't.
    Why? Could you explain?
    see #2. It is very difficult to replace "a/an". In this case, "one" is close to "a/an". but then, you would not expect (in normal circumstances) for an object to have more than one weight.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The words weight, height and distance are countable in these phrases. The indefinite article means "any weight/height/distance", or "one of weights heights or distance". The green words act as descriptive attributes to "weight/height/distance" and so, don't have an effect on the choice of an article. Am I right?
    I would say here that "the indefinite article means an arbitrary weight...or one of a continuum of weights."But I'm not sure why you are saying this. Is it to do with the difference between the weight and a weight.
    For example:
    1) The plane reached a height of 30,000 metres.
    2) When the plane reached the/a height of 30,000 metres, it depressurised.

    Do you have any problems with sentence 2)? If so, a previous thread may be of interest: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2158648.
     
    Last edited:

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Because (i) "The baby was born at a weight" is trivial. All babies (born on a planet or other object with gravity) have a weight. (ii) "at a weight of" demands that "a weight" be qualified.
    now it is my turn to not understand:)
    I thought that your explanation insisted that weight, height, distance had the indefinite article justified by the description (in green)
    No, I stated the opposite: "The words in green don't affect the choice of the articles in the sentences."
    see #2. It is very difficult to replace "a/an". In this case, "one" is close to "a/an". but then, you would not expect (in normal circumstances) for an object to have more than one weight.
    A potato is a material thing which can be seen, touched, etc. It's simplier.
    Yes, an object doesn't have more than one weight, it has one of possible "weights" - that's what I meant.:confused:
    "the indefinite article means an arbitrary weight...or one of a continuum of weights.
    Yes, I feel I meant something like this.:)
    1) The plane reached a height of 30,000 metres.
    2) When the plane reached the/a height of 30,000 metres, it depressurised.

    Do you have any problems with sentence 2)?
    As I understand, here is another case: (right?)
    The
    1) used preceding a noun that has been previously specified
    WRdictioanry
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "The: used preceding a height that has been previously specified."

    This would be when the plane reached a certain height: When it reached the height of XXX feet, it depressurised.
     

    Kunio

    Member
    American English
    The baby example sounds correct to me. I do not think it is different from the rest of the examples.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    1) The plane reached a height of 30,000 metres.
    2) When the plane reached the/a height of 30,000 metres, it depressurised.

    Do you have any problems with sentence 2)? If so, a previous thread may be of interest: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2158648.
    Is this what you meant by the link?
    When he reaches what seems half of its height, he stops to make a measurement. The digital altimeter shows '333'. The man records the measurement with a digital voice recorder: I am measuring a height of three hundred and thirty-three feet.
    (...)
    Upon reaching the place where the stick with the flag is, he is suddenly struck by an ingenious idea. Naturally, he wants to record the idea so he won't forget it. Meticulous by nature, he begins the recording with:At the height of three hundred and thirty-three feet, the most wonderful idea came to me...
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    VNS, you can talk about things like weight in general or you can talk about a particular or specific weight.

    Therefore, 'Air has weight' (general) and 'The baby has a good birth weight' (particular). Obviously when you give the weight some numerical specification, it is a particular weight: 'The baby had a birth weight of 7 lbs'. This should explain Paul's examples in post 8.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    If you have specified the height beforehand, you can say the height, if you wish.Otherwise you would say a height.But you original questions does not seem to be about the difference between a and the.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    VNS, you can talk about things like weight in general or you can talk about a particular or specific weight.

    Therefore, 'Air has weight' (general) and 'The baby has a good birth weight' (particular).
    Yes, as I understand the "weight" is a variable noun, in 'Air has weight' -- uncountable, in "The baby has a good birth weight'" - countable.
    If you have specified the height beforehand, you can say the height, if you wish.Otherwise you would say a height.But you original questions does not seem to be about the difference between a and the.
    Yes, my question is exactly about the difference between a and the.
    But the thing by which I'm still confused is your example:
    2) When the plane reached the/a height of 30,000 metres, it depressurised.
    Do you have any problems with sentence 2)
    Could you confirm that it is "the" that should be used there and that it's because the height was specified beforehand (in the sentence "1)")?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    No, I didn't say the should be used.
    For example, if it is established by experiment that an aeroplane will depressurise at a particular height, then you can say When the plane reaches the height of XX metres, it will depressurise. You can also say a height of or the critical height of XX metres.

    But if you are the captain of a plane, you would not say to the passengers We are now at the height of 10,000 metres and on the left Kiev is visible.

     
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