eating human flesh gives a/the person certain abilities

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
-- Cultures all over the world believe that eating human flesh gives a person certain abilities. Speed, strength, immortality. If you eat enough of it, over years, you become this less than human thing. You're always hungry.
Supernatural, TV series

Would article THE instead sound idiomatic here too? Like -- "eating human flesh gives the person (who eats it) certain abilities". Thank you.
 
  • I don't understand your preoccupation with indefinite and indefinite articles.
    The original sentence sounds good.
    To be honest, "the person" does not sound idiomatic at all.
    I would not worry too much about articles in English. A lot of the time it doesn't matter. There are more important things to worry about.
     
    I didn't forget (the) zero article. I chose to ignore it after recent posts on this forum. The plain fact is that a lot of the time the article does not matter. So would "gives people certain abilities" work for you? Then we do not have to worry about "a", "the" or zero, do we?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    -- Cultures all over the world believe that eating human flesh gives a person certain abilities. Speed, strength, immortality. If you eat enough of it, over years, you become this less than human thing. You're always hungry.
    Supernatural, TV series

    Would article THE instead sound idiomatic here too? Like -- "eating human flesh gives the person (who eats it) certain abilities". Thank you.
    I think you are catching on:D In many cases it is possible for a/the/0 article to be used without changing the meaning in any significant way. If the choice changes the meaning significantly, then it is important:) Do you think changing from a to the in this case changes the meaning - and if so, how could it?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Would article THE instead sound idiomatic here too? Like -- "eating human flesh gives the person (who eats it) certain abilities".
    I agree with #2, that it does not sound idiomatic.

    Also, you put "who eats it" in parentheses. That is cheating. If you have to explain to us what the sentence means, it is not idiomatic.

    For a different kind of question, like "does my sentence here state my meaning clearly?" it is okay to describe what you mean by it.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    So would "gives people certain abilities" work for you? Then we do not have to worry about "a", "the" or zero, do we?
    But that'd be avoiding a problem by replacing it with something easier.:)
    Do you think changing from a to the in this case changes the meaning - and if so, how could it?
    I'd thought it didn't change the meaning very much:)
    Also, you put "who eats it" in parentheses. That is cheating. If you have to explain to us what the sentence means, it is not idiomatic.
    But it would work in a different phrasing, and then cheating would turn into an explanation, e.g:

    Cultures all over the world believe that if someone who is weak eats human flesh, it gives the person (who eats it) certain abilities.

    Now, with or without the parentheses it makes perfect sense, right?...
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The thing is that adding "the person who eats it" to "eating something" is really unnecessary. We don't think that eating something will affect someone other than the person who ate it. We're not trying to clarify that point.
    Any person eating human flesh will have powers.
    The person who eats human flesh eating human flesh will have powers. :eek:
     
    But that'd be avoiding a problem by replacing it with something easier.
    Yes, I'm all for that approach!

    No, it doesn't make any difference to the sense, with or without the parenthesis. We would all perfectly understand the meaning.

    You can choose "a" or "the", - either way we understand you.

    Now, do tell us, which one do you choose? I am on tenterhooks.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    We're not trying to clarify that point.
    I'm not too. The parentheses were supposed to explain the use of the definite article, that is, what I meant by the article in the OP.:)
    Now, do tell us, which one do you choose? I am on tenterhooks.
    In the OP? Now I choose A, of course, since I've been told THE is not idiomatic. And also, after googling similar patterns in the internet. But in my rewriting...

    Cultures all over the world believe that if someone who is weak eats human flesh, it gives the person certain abilities.

    ... the indefinite article I'm sure would be wrong.
     
    Then go for it / them! (Though I think the indefinite article also works).

    You could also perhaps consider: "Cultures all over the world believe that if someone who is weak eats human flesh, it gives them certain abilities."
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Cultures all over the world believe that if someone who is weak eats human flesh, it gives the person certain abilities.
    Different sentence, different grammar. Not sure it belongs in the same thread. We're not trying to cover ALL possible uses of a/the/-.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you everyone!

    (Though I think the indefinite article also works)
    But it's a "second mention" which requires article THE: "someone ..................... the person", isn't it...?
    Different sentence, different grammar. Not sure it belongs in the same thread. We're not trying to cover ALL possible uses of a/the/-.
    Why, I'm sure it's the same sentence, thread and grammar, but a little different wording; "someone who ....... the person" is essentially the same as "a person"...
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top