determiners + plurals

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Al Blanco

Member
Russian
Are my examples and speculations correct?


They are thieves (thieves, not policemen or priests)
They are the thieves (the thieves whom I told about before)


There are tables in the room (I want to accentuate that they are tables, not chairs or computers).
There are some tables in the room (the logic accent is on ‘some’ – some tables, not few or a lot of them).


I’ve bought tables for my office (not chairs).
I’ve bought some tables for my office (not few or a lot of them).
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The use of 'the' is correct, so I'll concentrate on the more complicated question, the use of 'some'. You say 'logic accent', but it does also depend on the actual accent. With unaccented 'some', it has the same meaning as without it. (It might be possible to detect a small difference, of course, but I don't know what it would be.)

    There are \tables in the room.
    There are some \tables in the room.

    Both these are appropriate if someone wants some kind of furniture in the room, for example chairs or tables - and there are (some) tables, so that's okay. Both are also appropriate if someone wants to know which kinds of furniture there are in the room: they want to know about chairs, and about tables, and so on. You don't know whether there are chairs, but you saw (some) tables, so you can say there are (some) tables.

    In both these, there must be more than one table (or you wouldn't use plural), but the unstressed 'some' isn't comparing the number on a scale - it's not a middle value between few and many. However, if you stress 'some', that contrasts it with other determiners - there's more than one, and there's not a huge number. It might be said in answer to a question about whether there will be enough tables.

    There are \some tables in the room.
     

    Al Blanco

    Member
    Russian
    The use of 'the' is correct, so I'll concentrate on the more complicated question, the use of 'some'. You say 'logic accent', but it does also depend on the actual accent. With unaccented 'some', it has the same meaning as without it. (It might be possible to detect a small difference, of course, but I don't know what it would be.)There are \tables in the room.There are some \tables in the room.Both these are appropriate if someone wants some kind of furniture in the room, for example chairs or tables - and there are (some) tables, so that's okay. Both are also appropriate if someone wants to know which kinds of furniture there are in the room: they want to know about chairs, and about tables, and so on. You don't know whether there are chairs, but you saw (some) tables, so you can say there are (some) tables.In both these, there must be more than one table (or you wouldn't use plural), but the unstressed 'some' isn't comparing the number on a scale - it's not a middle value between few and many. However, if you stress 'some', that contrasts it with other determiners - there's more than one, and there's not a huge number. It might be said in answer to a question about whether there will be enough tables.There are \some tables in the room.
    Thanks a lot, Entangledbank! Did I understand it right that what you said can be also said about last examples (I've bought tables/I've bouht some tables)?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The use of 'some' is the same. There is a difference between them - I don't know if it's straying way from the point to mention it, but I've mentioned contrastive stress, so I'd better say this now. The final pair can be said on their own, unprompted: they can contain all new information. The neutral place for the accent is at the end:

    A: What did you do today?
    B: I took my kid to his dentist's appointment, I bought (some) tables for my office, I . . .

    But the second pair need to be in reply to something: 'the room' can't be new information.

    A: We need to put the food somewhere. What about in there?
    B: There are (some) tables in the room.

    'The room' is old information, so unaccented; '(some) tables' is new, so it's accented. With the office sentence, you have both possibilities: neutral accent not stressing the tables, or stressing them to pick them out from chairs or lamps.

    I've bought some tables for my office. (That's what I did today.)
    I've bought some tables for my office. (The chairs were already there.)
    I've bought some tables for my office. (They might not be enough.)

    (And I've switched to bold type because I don't want to go into what kind of intonation is used for the accent.)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Excellent job by entangledbank :thumbsup:

    I'll add one using the same notation, "You've bought some, tables for my office?" - with the slight pause after some, and said with the rising tone of interrogation, this becomes, "!!! Exactly how many tables have you bought???" (horror and dismay at the thought that there will be hundreds of them.)
     
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