infrastructure for the oil industry in Canada (articles)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by CopperKettle, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. CopperKettle

    CopperKettle Member

    Yekaterinburg
    Russian
    I'm trying to put articles in proper places in a news report from BBC ("TransCanada in pipeline plan from west to east Canada"); the original articles are all cut using a text editor.

    Here's a sentence I which I discovered three mismatches. This is the original text:


    And this is my attempt, with mismatched instances highlighted:
    (The question marks are put in positions where I've been uncertain in my choice.)

    Are all three unacceptable or some are fine?
    I feel that the biggest blunder is with the "oil industry in Canada".
     
  2. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    I find "the infrastructure of the oil industry" most natural.
    You could use "for the oil industry", but not "for oil industry". It is a specific industry, so we need the.
     
  3. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    You can't use "A country with the world's third-largest..." because there is only one country in third place. It has to be THE.
     
  4. CopperKettle

    CopperKettle Member

    Yekaterinburg
    Russian
    Thanks, Edinburgher, e2efour!
     
  5. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    I don't agree. There are plenty of examples of the type a country with the worst record for human rights abuses or a country with the second-largest reserves of oil. The country or a country are interchangeable in such sentences.

    I agree that you would use the in sentences like Brazil is the third largest country on the American continents. But you could say ...Brazil, a country that is the third largest on the American continents. The difference seems to be that a country is in apposition to Brazil.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  6. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    I don't think even your examples work, E2. With "a country" we are talking about an indefinite one of necessarily several countries; with "the country" we are talking about just one definite unique country.

    When "the/a country that is the third largest..." is an apposition to Brazil, the fact that it is an apposition does not of itself require the indefinite article; the indefinite article is what one would normally use in the absence of a defining clause following the noun. For me, it's this clause after "country" that determines the type of article required. If the clause only partly defines its antecedent, as in "country with one of the worst human rights records", then this is still one of several countries, and we should use "a", but once it's "the worst record", then the definition has become complete and the country has become unique and so the definite article is more appropriate.

    The real concern of the OP seems to be that the sentence contains rather a lot of 'the's, but rather than change one of them to an 'a' willy-nilly, a better option might be to change it so that no article is needed:
    "in Canada, which has the world's third-largest oil reserves" There is no need to remind us that Canada is a country.
     
  7. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    There's nothing whatever wrong with the original sentence. Why do you want to change it?
     
  8. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    Are you saying that you would change a country to the country in the two examples below? They appear to meet your criterion of the clause (the lowest.../the second largest...) defining the antecedent.

    "This is particularly obvious in India, a country with the second largest population of billionaires but also home to 25% of the world’s poor." (Wikipedia)

    "In Italy, a country with the lowest birth rate and fastest ageing population in Europe,…"
    BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3155324.stm.

    However, I would not bother to change the original sentence, which uses the presumably because Canada has already been mentioned as the subject of the article.
     
  9. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    I agree with Parla - no changes are necessary.
     
  10. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    Yes, that's what I'm saying. At least I'm pretty sure I would do so if given the chance to think about it. Prior to this discussion it might have been different. :)
    The key for me is not that the clause is defining, but that it is uniquely defining, so that only one country answers to the description given.

    Let me see, now... Would you change the country to a country in the two examples below? :)

    Later, as a teacher in the Amherst, N.H. school district, she spent two, sixth-month sabbaticals in New Zealand, the country with the highest literacy rate in the world.
    (http://www.snhu.edu/10509.asp)

    Pressure on Iraq cannot be effective if Iran, the country with the longest land border with Iraq, is not cooperating.
    (F G Gause III - Oil Monarchies - http://books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=0876091516 )
     
  11. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    I would accept the indefinite or definitie article in both your examples, Edinburgher.
    In the second example, Iran is mentioned in the previous sentence, so I would probably prefer the.
     
  12. CopperKettle

    CopperKettle Member

    Yekaterinburg
    Russian
    I've never thought to change it, Parla. I'm trying to train myself to pay attention to the articles and maybe make less blunders in their use.
     
  13. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    I agree with e2efour that both articles can be used. The difference between the two is that with "the" we are not only describing something but also defining it. (The proof is that the appositive elements become perfect substitutes.) On the other hand, by using "a" we are just describing the other element without defining it.

    I find 'a' to be less blunt than 'the' when a fact is mentioned that may not be flattering, as in the example sentences in post 8. The statement becomes somewhat less direct by using 'a'. I would use 'the' in the topic sentence as well as in the second example sentence in post 10. Ultimately the choice between the two would depend on context.
     

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