He has got <an/the> alarm clock [article use]

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Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi teachers,
What has he got on the night table?
a) He has got an alarm clock.
b) He has got the alarm clock.

Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    There is no context, just the picture.
    Hmm... I don't quite believe you. If there's "just the picture," how did you know to make a sentence about it? Is this perhaps an exercise, in a textbook? If so, what are the instructions?

    Not to jump ahead, but... There is absolutely no correct answer to this question:
    What has he got on the night table?
    a) He has got an alarm clock.
    b) He has got the alarm clock.
    Both answers are entirely possible, although they are not interchangeable​. In a particular context one will be right and the other wrong. Without information about what's being said/how the words are being used, we really can't give an answer.
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hmm... I don't quite believe you. If there's "just the picture," how did you know to make a sentence about it? Is this perhaps an exercise, in a textbook? If so, what are the instructions?
    Hi,
    Thanks for your reply. It is absolutely true. Why should I lie?
    These are the instructions: Look at the drawings and complete the answers to the questions.

    Yes, it is an exercise in my manuscript. Someone draw the picture for me as well as many others. I give the students, they are beginners, the picture and a few questions out of it, as I do with the rest of the pictures.
    Eg.
    1. What is he doing?
    2. What is there on the night table?
    3. Where is the alarm clock?
    4. What has he got on the night table?

    TS
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    The basic difference is that, if you use "the," then we are specifying one particular alarm clock that we're talking about.

    So:

    (if we haven't been talking about the alarm clock...)
    A: What does he have on his night table?
    B: He has an alarm clock there. :tick:
    B: He has the alarm clock there. :cross:
    B: He has the alarm clock I got him for his birthday. :tick:

    (if we've already specified the alarm clock)
    A: What did you get him for his birthday?
    B: I got him this amazing alarm clock.
    A: What does he have on his night table?
    B: He has an alarm clock there. :cross: (unless it's a different alarm clock)
    B: He has the alarm clock there. :tick:
     
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