carries <a> <the> connotation that some of those personality characteristics

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Makel Leki

Senior Member
Russian
From an answer on ELL Stack Exchange:
Taken together, the quote is a metaphor suggesting that Luke has all the personality characteristics that one would expect in "a Bulldog," a student at the university or an alumnus. The image of the salivating dog carries a connotation that some of those personality characteristics are aggressive in nature.
What is the difference between "a connotation" and "the connotation"? Why does "connotation" take an indefinite article despite being modified by a that-clause?
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    The indefinite article suggests that the image might also carry other connotations.
    Perhaps it would help to think of the that-clause binding more tightly to the noun "connotation" than the article binds to that noun. Think of the article as applying to the whole noun phrase formed by the combination of the noun and the that-clause.
     

    Makel Leki

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The indefinite article suggests that the image might also carry other connotations.
    Perhaps it would help to think of the that-clause binding more tightly to the noun "connotation" than the article binds to that noun. Think of the article as applying to the whole noun phrase formed by the combination of the noun and the that-clause.
    Thanks. What would the sentence mean with "the"? Would it mean that there is only one connotation?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don't see a huge difference in meaning, only a slight shift of emphasis. With "the", this particular connotation is not necessarily the only one, but perhaps the most important or most relevant one. It could just be that "the" binds more tightly to "connotation" than "connotation" binds to the that-clause.
     
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