He has missed an m out of accommodate [article use]

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
I.52
Note {b}

Examples like 'There are too many althoughs in this paragraph', 'He has missed an m out of accommodate' might superficially suggest that although, m, and accommodate have been converted into nouns. [...] Any item can, of course, be used nominally in this way, not by conversion but by an elliptical apposition ('the word although', 'letter m').
(A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language; R. Quirk)

M and accommodate can be used nominally by an elliptical apposition - 'letter m', 'the word accommodate'.

Hence (I assume):
'He has missed an m out of accommodate.' ~ 'He has missed a letter m out of the word accommodate.'

If this is so, I'd expect some consistency in the use of articles - 'He has missed an m out of the accommodate'. But this is apparently not exactly how it works.

Would you be so kind as to tell me what's the rule of thumb regarding articles when it comes to such cases of 'elliptical apposition'?

Thanks.
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    If this is so, I'd expect some consistency in the use of articles - 'He has missed an m out of the word accommodate'. But this is apparently not exactly how it works.
    ( I've added 'word', by the way)
    There are two m's in accommodate.
    If he'd written 'accoodate' then we'd say he's missed out the m's.
    An m indicates one of them.
    Or have I missed your point? :)
     
    Last edited:

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    We don't write the accommodate because in such instances we treat the word as a name.

    I wrote accommodate on my notebook.
    Accommodate is a fairly common word.

    We can use articles with names when we want to distinguish between them. We say things like 'This isn't the John I was talking about', or when we want to pick out one from a number 'There was a Agatha in my class' (out of the different Agathas in the world). That is why we say the m or an m ('You missed out the n in government' and so on).
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you natkretep.

    Or have I missed your point? :)
    Unfortunately you have :)

    We have 'a letter m' and 'the word accommodate' (so far so good). Then we have this sentence: He has missed an m out of accommodate.

    If this is a case of an elliptical apposition, why then have we lost (?the) 'the' (the word accommodate), but retained (?the) 'a' (a letter m)?

    Thanks.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    We have 'a letter m' and 'the word accommodate' (so far so good). Then we have this sentence: He has missed an m out of accommodate.

    If this is a case of an elliptical apposition, why then have we lost (?the) 'the' (the word accommodate), but retained (?the) 'a' (a letter m)?
    "An" is telling us how many of the two have been left out (we don't say "missed out" in AmE). It could be replaced by "one" - He has left one "m" out of "accommodate." It's not just the "a" that indicates it's non-specific.
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    We don't write the accommodate because in such instances we treat the word as a name.

    I wrote accommodate on my notebook.
    Accommodate is a fairly common word.
    But what if we italicize "accommodate" only, and not "the"? Like here:
    'He has missed an m out of the accommodate'.
    While "an" indicates "one of the two letters M in the word", "the" means "the specific word "accommodate" in the sentence (or the one the speaker is referring to). Because in your two examples, "accommodate" is used generally. Could that be the difference?

    "An" is telling us how many of the two have been left out (we don't say "missed out" in AmE). It could be replaced by "one" - He has left one "m" out of "accommodate." It's not just the "a" that indicates it's non-specific.
    It's clear when it is just "m":
    He has missed an m out of accommodate'.
    But what about "letter":
    He has missed the letter m out of the word accommodate.
    He has missed a letter m out of the word accommodate:confused:

    I thought that when we use the word "letter" we can't use "a" (even though we're talking about one of the two letters in a word). It can't be "a letter M" because it is a specific letter from the alphabet — the letter M (of which there's only one), can it?...
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    He has left one "m" out of that specific "accommodate".
    It's not a specific one out of many instances of the word. It's the only "accommodate" that's in the context. He's president of the school.
    We could say:
    He has left one "m" out of the "accommodate" on page 23 (the specific "accommodate" that is on page 23) and one "c" out of an "accommodate" on page 47 (there are four "accommodates" on page 47 and only one is wrong).
    John went to see Tom.
    John went to see the Tom who lives on Oak Street and the Tom who lives in Drury Lane.
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Natkretep already answered that, SuprunP. In this context, the word you're talking about (whatever it is) is treated as a name. It's like a book title.

    He misspelt the "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" in his essay.
    You misspelt the "accommodate".
    You left an m out of the "accommodate".

    However, the letter m is merely a character, a symbol. I, personally, would never say "He left out a letter m" (even though we do say "He left out an m"). It simply doesn't sound right. I wouldn't say "He left out the letter m" either if there were two of them in the word we were talking about. It would sound fine if there was only one. For example, "My name is Chloe, not Chlo. You forgot the e".
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, we don't usually use articles with names; but when we do, it's got to be for a specific reason.

    Therefore: 'You've misspelt accommodate' but we could say 'You've misspelt the accommodate in the first sentence' (because there was the accommodate in the second sentence too, say - we are talking about multiple accomodates).
     
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