I am at <an/the/-> Intermediate,

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TommyGun

Senior Member
The sentence about the English level of myself.

I am at (an/the/-) Intermediate, I guess. But if I work hard, I will attain (an/the) advanced level.

Could you please advise which articles satisfy here?
 
  • archytas

    Member
    English (Ireland)
    "I am at an intermediate level ... I will attain an advanced level" is not incorrect and, to my ear at least, sounds far more natural than "the ...the". Perhaps it depends on whether you consider intermediate level to be a discrete point or a continuum.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    And it also works without articles: "I am at intermediate.... I will attain/reach advanced level."

    Someone who does judo may have the blue belt, or a blue belt, or blue belt, and if he breaks a few more bones, he may reach the black belt, or a black belt, or black belt.
     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    "I am at an intermediate level ... I will attain an advanced level" is not incorrect and, to my ear at least, sounds far more natural than "the ...the".
    And it also works without articles: "I am at intermediate.... I will attain/reach advanced level."

    Someone who does judo may have the blue belt, or a blue belt, or blue belt, and if he breaks a few more bones, he may reach the black belt, or a black belt, or black belt.
    I am actually interested in how altering articles change distinct subtleties or the whole sense of a phrase.
    In the case of "an advanced level" or "a black belt" you hint that it is a natural, general way to express the meaning.

    The question is how the meaning will change when the article changes.
    I will try to guess, could you please correct me?

    I am at the intermediate level
    That man have the blue belt

    1) Sounds philosophically, "the" points to generalization; or 2) the object is exaggerated, maybe sounds a bit proud

    I am at an intermediate level
    That man have a blue belt

    A matter of fact way to say. No emotions. May be sounds a bit scientish.

    I am at intermediate level
    That man have blue belt

    The careless, casual expressing.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    It's not really a question of meanings, it's about the use of articles (always difficult for Russian natives).

    1) I am at the intermediate level. Let's say we are talking in the context of a number of defined levels - in this case three: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. You are at the level which is defined as intermediate, so you are at a definite level, so you need the definite article - the article which refers to something already defined or definite.

    2) I am at an intermediate level. Let's say we're not talking about a defined number of levels. We're just describing any one of an infinite number of levels, e.g. novice, relative beginner, basic competence, fairly experienced, intermediate, very experienced, quite advanced, very advanced, highly proficient, expert etc.
    There is no defined list of abilities, you can make up as many levels of ability as you want. It's your own description, not one from a previously defined list.

    3) I am at intermediate level. Similar to 1), but the levels are felt to "have a name". There is only a limited number of levels, and they are defined by their names (whether or not you choose to use capital letters - Beginner Level, etc). One is called beginner level, the next is called intermediate level; the third is called advanced level.

    Others may have a better explanation for 3, but this is how it feels to me.
     
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    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    It's not really a question of meanings, it's about the use of articles (always difficult for Russian natives).
    Thank you for your explanation, it was really not easy for me to comprehend.

    I have seen that when natives talk about marks/grades they say "an A", "a B", "a C", although it is a definite range. Why?
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    It is, indeed, a definite range, but there are many different people who can get the same defined grade, so the A is countable.

    "I got the A" would mean there was only one A grade available, and I got it.
    "I got an A", and so did 30 other people. We all got As.
     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    Let's step aside from the subject of this topic, and rewind to my first message

    The sentence about the English level of myself.

    I am at (an/the/-) Intermediate, I guess. But if I work hard, I will attain (an/the) advanced level.
    Have I applied the definite article in the right way, meaning "pointing forward"?
    Or should I have used the "A", meaning "one"?
    Like this:

    A sentence about the English level of myself.

    I am at (an/the/-) Intermediate, I guess. But if I work hard, I will attain (an/the) advanced level.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Could you please give your sentence in the form you would write it (that is, make a choice as to article, instead of leaving options in brackets)?

    I for one do not know what this means:
    I am at (an/the/-) Intermediate, I guess. But if I work hard, I will attain (an/the) advanced level.
    It can be read in different combinations of article or no article in each place.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I am at the intermediate level
    That man have the blue belt

    1) Sounds philosophically, "the" points to generalization; or 2) the object is exaggerated, maybe sounds a bit proud

    I am at an intermediate level
    That man have a blue belt

    A matter of fact way to say. No emotions. May be sounds a bit scientish.

    I am at intermediate level
    That man have blue belt

    The careless, casual expressing.
    The and a have nothing to do with philosophical, scientific, or casual ways of saying sentences.

    The = the specific; the one we are/were talking about; the one we know; the one we own or are holding or are near.
    A(n) = one from amongst many; the noun in general terms; the noun as an example of all others
    No article (ø) + plural noun = the noun in general terms; the noun as an example of all others

    Consider:
    A: “We must open the door but we need a key.”
    B: “Here is a key!”
    A: [puts the key in lock – it does not work.] “This is useless; we need the key not a key!”
    B: “There are keys in the office.”
    A: “The keys in the office are for the garage, not for the door!”

    A: “We must open the door.” – (i) Here we say the door because it is a specific door – it is the door that A is speaking about.
    (ii) “but we need a key – Here A means “a key [one random key from amongst many keys] that fits the lock [the specific lock on the specific door.]

    B: “Here is a key!” – B has found a key. By saying “a key” he is indicating that it may not be the specific key for the door, it is one random key from amongst many keys in the world. (He hopes it will be the key.)

    A: “This is useless, we need the key not a key!” = we need the key [the specific key for the specific door] not a key [one random key from amongst many keys]!”

    B: “There are keys in the office.” - This is the plural form of “a” i.e. there is no article. B is saying, “There are [random] keys [from amongst all the keys in the world] in the office.

    A: “The keys in the office are for the garage, not for the door!” - “The keys [that you are talking about] in the office [that we both know] are for the garage [that we spoke about], not for the door [that we are talking about.]”

    The indefinite article cannot be used with uncountable nouns.
     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    Thank you guys, you have really answered all my questions in this topic.

    The last thing I need to clarify is one more or less specific case.

    What is the difference in the usage of the English articles?

    Do I put the definite article right? Or I should just leave it out?

    The reason to keep:
    It is not abstract usage, but the usage of a specific thing - the English articles.

    The reason to leave:
    There are a whole endless lot of different sentences with the articles, you can use them in speech or in writing; and I don't intend to pick up some specific sentence or domain, just ask in general.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Your example is a somewhat different case, as, arguably, English articles made usage specific. Personally, I would say, as you did, "It is not abstract usage, but the usage of a specific thing - the English articles." Therefore, for me, the article remains.

    A: "Have you got the key yet?"
    B: "Which key?"
    A: "The key of the door!"
    B: "Don't shout! What is the difference
    between the key of the door and the key I gave you?

     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    3) I am at intermediate level. Similar to 1), but the levels are felt to "have a name". There is only a limited number of levels, and they are defined by their names (whether or not you choose to use capital letters - Beginner Level, etc). One is called beginner level, the next is called intermediate level; the third is called advanced level.

    Others may have a better explanation for 3, but this is how it feels to me.
    Besides the feeling of "having a name", can you say that the word "level" in this case feels as an uncountable noun?

    Like the words "level" and "position" in these examples:
    He reached grandmaster level in chess.
    Women do better at degree level.
    The adverb "hardly" usually goes in mid-position of a sentence.


    And otherwise, do you feel the "grandmaster level", "degree level" and "mid-position" as levels and a position that have a name?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I have never thought of this kind of usage in terms of countable or uncountable nouns. It seems to me more to do with using a noun as an adjective to define another noun. The prefix 'mid-' is a different case, as it is never a noun.

    We could say of an actor 'He moved to centre stage', or 'He moved centre stage' (or even 'He moved stage centre').
    Here 'centre' is a noun, acting as an adjective, defining 'stage': in the same way as the noun 'grandmaster', or 'degree', acts as an adjective defining 'level'.

    If we wish to convert each of these brief noun-noun phrases into an equivalent defining expression, we would say 'to the centre of the stage', 'at the level of a degree' and 'at the level of grandmaster' (taking 'grandmaster' as a status) or 'at the level of a grandmaster' (taking 'grandmaster' as a person).
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The problem with "grandmaster level" and "mid-position" is that there is only one of them. They form a set of which they are the only member. This does not conform to the concept of an uncountable noun that is an homogeneous group.

    Another problem with "mid-position" is "If an adverb is in a mid-position in a sentence, it goes with the verb." is correct. This is caused by the qualification (in this case by "mid-") of what was an uncountable noun: "She has a good/working/detailed knowledge of French."
     
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