Article THE with prepositions

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ItBeatsMe, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. ItBeatsMe Member

    Hi Guys!

    I've got a question that's been bugging me for a while. I seem to use article 'the' (according to English friends) correctly for the most part but I don't sometimes know why. haha I'd like to though

    Here's the situation: Let's say 2 girls meet after shopping. One of them has bought something. The other one nothing.

    contingency 1
    - Heya, girl. The brim of a/the hat I've bought is turned-up in the way I like it! Just what I was looking for.
    - Show me

    contingency 2
    - Heya, girl. I've bought a hat with a turned-up brim! Just what I was looking for.
    - Show me

    1) Breaking the first case down
    a) ...the brim of the hat... use the brim (I'm almost certain about the) cos every hat has only one brim? And the is used after hat cos only one hat has been bought? This is the only explanation I can come up at this point. Doubt it's the right one
    b) Let's say the sentence goes like this this time ...the brim of a hat... Does a hat imply that more than one hat has been bought? As you can see I'm all about numbers haha

    2) The second case

    I pretty sure I woudn't say a hat with the brim. I'd say a hat with a brim. The question is why? By the theory about numbers it should be 'the'. However it doesn't sound right to my ears for some reason. Well theoratically a hat can have more than 1 brim if a designer goes wacky... Therefore the theory about numbers is debunked and what then? *scratching my head* :D

    I've tried to apply 'mentioned or not mentioned before' rule to both contingencies. It didn't get me anywhere

    Help me out guys :)
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  2. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Hello, ItBeatsMe,

    The fact that these follow prepositions does not affect the way we use articles. We follow the same rules we would follow in any other case. Here is my try at an explanation.

    1) Yes, your explanation is generally correct. We use 'the hat' because it's a particular hat, the hat I bought yesterday. If you substituted 'a hat' that would allow the possibility that you bought several hats yesterday. However, it still might refer to the only hat you bought. Context would have to make it clear.

    2) Hats may have only one brim, but there are lots of brims out there, and the hat has an unspecified one of them. You might buy a hat with a wide brim, for instance. There are lots of wide brims; the hat has one of them. On the other hand you might buy a hat with a specific brim:
    Yesterday I found a hat with the brim I was looking for; it has black pom-poms hanging from the edge.
  3. ItBeatsMe Member

    Hi Cagey!

    You're right. It has nothing to do with that. It's something else. According to stuff I've googled, it's called the post-modification of the noun The man who lives next door is Russian. (Use the article the when an adjective, phrase, or clause describing the noun clarifies or restricts its identity). To make clear to a person you're talking to by giving more information. I kinda see where this is going...but still

    hmm Does it mean he is the only neighbour I have? How is a person I'm talking to supposed to know which neighbour I'm talking about? I can have many neighbours. They all can be Russians. We restrict identity to the point where it becomes obvious to a person we're talking to that there's only one thing or person?

    1) "Context would have to make it clear." How would the given situation pan out if it were the brim of the hat andthe brim of a hat ? what kind of context do we need in those cases to make clear?

    I reckon this is similiar to the drunk woman situation?

    2) Oh I see! That makes sense. However the first case starts troubling me then. A hat with a brim and the brim of a hat. In both cases the brim belongs to the hat no matter how many types of brim can possibly exists.Why is the difference in the article?
    hmm Can you say a brim of a hat? or it's just nonsense? or a general idea? haha

    3) Another situation that just came into my mind. I'm invited to a friend's place for dinner. I've never been there before.

    Having arrived at the area, I'm calling my friend
    -Hi, there are 3 houses here. Which one is yours?
    -The one with a blue door.
    -Oh ok. See you in a bit.

    What if we have 2 house with a blue door.

    -Hi, there are 3 houses here. Which one is yours?
    -The one with a blue door.
    -2 of them have a blue door.
    -The one with a dish on top.
    -Oh ok. See you in a bit.

    again we reduce it to the only possible thing?

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