Number six an or the?

  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Either can be correct in the right context. Unfortunately, these exercises don't give any context. For that reason, I think they are (or at least this one is) poorly written.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Either could be used. I would almost certainly use "the ambulance"; ambulances don't just drive along roads looking for people who have had accidents, not like taxis looking for passengers; it would have to have been called. However, "an ambulance" is not wrong.
     

    abo.omar

    Senior Member
    arabic
    Either can be correct in the right context. Unfortunately, these exercises don't give any context. For that reason, I think they are (or at least this one is) poorly written.
    This context is invented by a native book writer speaker, and not an Arab teacher.
    So you say that both are correct because of the poor context.
    Thanks
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    This context is invented by a native book writer speaker, and not an Arab teacher.
    So you say that both are correct because of the poor context.
    Thanks
    Just because someone is a native speaker doesn't mean they are automatically going to catch all the ambiguity in this kind of exercise. And just because it's a textbook doesn't mean that all the copy editors that looked at it picked up all the ambiguity.

    Indeed typically there are errors in almost every text book in every discipline. It happens.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    This context is invented by a native book writer speaker, and not an Arab teacher.
    So you say that both are correct because of the poor context.
    Thanks
    I think the context for 6 is clear enough, and either "an" or "the" could be used. However, the correct answer to 1 isn't clear without context, and I think all the others only have one possible answer.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    As I re-read the exercise, it seems that the questions are supposed to form a story rather than being isolated sentences without context. If that is the case, then I'd argue for "a" in (1) because the story is a cautionary example that applies to anyone who drives any car. I also lean toward "an" in (6) because there wasn't any previous mention of a specific ambulance, but I don't feel as strongly about that choice.

    As for the others, I agree with Uncle Jack that only one answer can be correct.
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    Here's what I think is being tested/practiced in this exercise. The first time you introduce a particular item into a context, we usually use an indefinite article. So, since no one talked about calling an ambulance prior to mentioning its arrival, I think they are looking for AN.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Here's what I think is being tested/practiced in this exercise. The first time you introduce a particular item into a context, we usually use an indefinite article. So, since no one talked about calling an ambulance prior to mentioning its arrival, I think they are looking for AN.
    For what it's worth, I think you're right. However, in BrE, it would be idiomatic to say "the ambulance", referring to the ambulance that was called, even though:
    1. No one has mentioned calling an ambulance.
    2. When you call an ambulance, you don't call a particular one.
    However, the mere presence of an ambulance means we can infer that one was called, and that it is the one that was dispatched by the ambulance control centre that has turned up. This is probably rather advanced for the level of this exercise (and might well not apply in all varieties of English).
     
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