Inquiries in relation to the definite article.

Kreshnik

Member
Bulgarian
Hereby are two examples I apply. My justification is that in the first example the isn't needed, because we're talking about something undetermined, i.e. it is a continuation of governement, whilst in the second example we talk about the principles of marketing as something universal, such as the sun, the air etc. Could you explain it for me, please?

ex. 1 Clauswitz claimed that the war is a continuation of goverment by other means, but is it necessary?

ex. 2 He shows an impressive understanding of the principles of marketing.
 
  • prawer

    Member
    English - US
    Kreshnik,

    I could use some clarification. To me, you have the right understanding of why the articles are used (or omitted, as the case may be) here. If your question is, "am I right?," I would say, Yes!
     

    Kreshnik

    Member
    Bulgarian
    To speak the truth I understood it as I wrote it down. Consider the problem solved. Thank you, prawer. I needed a varification.

    Point of inquiry - if I was to say "a continuation of the government" how would that change the meaning? In other words would it apply that the government has already been mentioned and the listener/reader is aware of which government we have in mind?
     
    Last edited:

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Kreshnik said:
    ex. 1 Clauswitz claimed that the war is a continuation of goverment by other means, but is it necessary?
    It seems the example is not quoted correctly. As we are later asked to explain the difference between a use of the zero article and the definite article in the sentence, I feel it is important to take a look at the original first. According to Wikipedia's entry for Carl von Clausewitz, a 19th century Prussian soldier and German military theorist, the aphorism (most likely translated from German) reads "War is the continuation of policy by other means." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for 'war' notes that:

    Clausewitz famously suggested that war is “the continuation of policy by other means.” Surely, as a description, this conception is both powerful and plausible: war is about governance, using violence instead of peaceful measures to resolve policy (which organizes life in a land). [...] In fact, we might say that Clausewitz was right, but not quite deep enough: it's not just that war is the continuation of policy by other means; it's that war is about the very thing which creates policy—i.e., governance itself. War is the intentional use of mass force to resolve disputes over governance.
    In other words, 'government' is apparently used in the sense of 'governance' in the example sentence. Furthermore, it seems likely that the definite article modifying 'war' is not correct because of the present tense, which, in this case, is used to denote a principle, not a current state of affairs. Over time, there is only 'war', not 'the war'. Because of this, I propose that example (1) should read: Clausewitz claimed that war is a continuation of government by other means, but is it necessary?

    Kreshnik said:
    ...if I was to say "a continuation of the government" how would that change the meaning?
    I don't think it would make sense because the simple present tense is used to denote a principle, and over time there is only 'government' (that is, governance), not 'the government'.
     

    simon123

    Member
    English - UK (Scottish influence)
    I realise this is an old enquiry, but I thought I'd just update it in what I hope is a clear manner. It rests on the fact that 'government' is an abstract noun describing the process of governing, whereas 'the government' refers to a group of people who are doing the governing. It is also important that there is no capital letter for Government, which would make it a proper noun.

    It has to be government, not 'the G/government', because government describes processes, and these processes can be carried out 'by other means'. A group of people can't be continued 'by other means' - or rather, it could, but that would have slightly surreal and sinister implications.

    Let's try to clear this up with examples:

    'Clauswitz claimed that the war is a continuation of government by other means' - this means that the war is just another method of governing a country and pursuing its aims and statecraft. However, note that this shouldn't say 'the war' as this makes this definite and not abstract (in most cases it would also be 'the War', a proper noun, as it would be referring to a definite war we all knew about). He was talking about general principals, not a specific war. The correct sentence would be 'Clauswitz claimed that war is a continuation of government by other means.' Government in this case is a more general term than policy - they aren't quite synonyms as government includes policy as well as the means of pursuing it.

    If we restrict it just to 'Clauswitz claimed that war is a continuation of the government', then this means that the military is so entwined in government that the state of war is the status quo and part of how all countries are governed. It would imply high levels of either civilians in all armies or soldiers in all governments. It would be quite a sweeping statement.

    If we go with 'Clauswitz claimed that war is a continuation of the Government', then this means that a certain government has chosen the above militaristic lifestyle, and could probably be applied to Clauswitzes Prussia, Nazi Germany and other Fascist governments. It would normally imply the government of the country one was in, unless another government was mentioned previously, i.e. 'Clauswitz gave a talk on Prussia yesterday. He claimed that war was a continuation of the Government.'

    Hope that clears things up. Basically, the only sentence that makes isn't a bit of a stretch in English is 'Clauswitz claimed that war is a continuation of government by other means.'
     
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