retaliation for <a> missile strike that [article]

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kansi

Senior Member
japanese
it's from yahoo.com:Pentagon: 34 US troops had brain injuries from Iran's strike

That indefinite article implies that there were some missile strikes that killed the general and this month's Iranian missile strike on an Iraqi air base was in retaliation for one of the US missile strikes that killed the general?

But it would sound right if the iranian missile had been done in retaliation for all the missiles that killed the general, right?

This wouldn't be important to understand about the whole artcle but I just wanted to have a correct understanding of it.

*****************
The one American sent to Kuwait has since returned to duty. All 16 of those who were diagnosed with TBI and remained in Iraq have since returned to duty, Hoffman said.

No one was killed in the attack on Ain al-Asad. The strike was launched in retaliation for a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the most powerful military general in Iran, on Jan. 3 at Baghdad International Airport.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Does that indefinite article imply that there were some missile strikes that killed the general and this month's Iranian missile strike on an Iraqi air base was in retaliation for one of the US missile strikes that killed the general?
    Please note how to ask questions - there is an inversion of verb and subject. In this case, you cannot write a sentence and simply add a question mark.

    The strike was launched in retaliation for a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani,
    this means
    The strike was launched in retaliation for one example of a U.S. drone missile strike: the one that killed Qassem Soleimani,
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Please note how to ask questions - there is an inversion of verb and subject. In this case, you cannot write a sentence and simply add a question mark.

    The strike was launched in retaliation for a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani,
    this means
    The strike was launched in retaliation for one example of a U.S. drone missile strike: the one that killed Qassem Soleimani,
    I see. Then does the sentence imply that one strike, not maltiple strikes killed the general?

    And I am guessing that it would be normal to think that one missile killed the general. Then should it be the sentence below and it's better?
    The strike was launched in retaliation for The strike was launched in retaliation for the U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the most powerful military general in Iran, on Jan. 3 at Baghdad International Airport.
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    As we know that the General was killed by the single strike of a missile, then, yes, it does.

    I do not wish to complicate the matter but "strike" can be countable or uncountable. In its uncountable form, if qualified by an adjective, it can be also be qualified by "a" yet remain uncountable and imply the generality of a multiple strike:

    "A well-aimed missile strike against Iran damaged several locations in a 10 mile radius around the QUDS base." Here, although "strike" is uncountable, "well-aimed missile" and "against Iran" both have a partitive effect on the generality of "strike", and "a" would mean "one example of a".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    As we know that the General was killed by the single strike of a missile, then, yes, it does.
    :confused:
    From the BBC report on the incident:
    Several missiles struck the convoy and at least seven people are believed to have died.
    The phrase "a missile strike" tells us nothing about how many missiles were used. It tells us that there was one strike - an attack on a target - that was made using a missile or missiles.

    PS. And the fuller "a U.S. drone missile strike" doesn't tell us how many drones were used.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    As we know that the General was killed by the single strike of a missile, then, yes, it does.

    I do not wish to complicate the matter but "strike" can be countable or uncountable. In its uncountable form, if qualified by an adjective, it can be also be qualified by "a" yet remain uncountable and imply the generality of a multiple strike:

    "A well-aimed missile strike against Iran damaged several locations in a 10 mile radius around the QUDS base." Here, although "strike" is uncountable, "well-aimed missile" and "against Iran" both have a partitive effect on the generality of "strike", and "a" would mean "one example of a".
    I can think of "a well-aimed missle strike against Iran" as an example of such missles strikes by the indefinite article but I can't think of "a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani" as an example of such missles strikes because it sounds like maltiple missile strikes killed the general even though one strike killed him..
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    The phrase "a missile strike" tells us nothing about how many missiles were used. It tells us that there was one strike - an attack on a target - that was made using a missile or missiles.
    Well, so the writer doesn't know ( or maybe doesn't care in this context) if some missile strikes killed him or a single missile strike killed him, and then it's "a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani"?

    It tells us that there was one strike - an attack on a target - that was made using a missile or missiles.
    ↑is this equal to "there was (at least) one strike"?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    From the BBC report on the incident:
    Several missiles struck the convoy and at least seven people are believed to have died.
    There was a single drone which fired two missiles, only one of which killed the General. See The Sun Jan 3rd(?) 2020.


    "Two US missiles hit the cargo area of Baghdad airport shortly after midnight. The first hit a vehicle carrying General Soleimani and Muhandis"
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    From a language point it doesn't matter in the slightest how many drones or missiles were involved. The writer wrote "a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani". As I already said, that tells us that it was a strike (one attack), undertaken by a drone or drones, and using a missile or missiles.

    Any further information derived from news reports is completely irrelevant to the information contained in the text I have quoted.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    The writer wrote "a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani". As I already said, that tells us that it was a strike (one attack), undertaken by a drone or drones, and using a missile or missiles.
    Although I already know before reading this article that the general was killed by a single strike, the readers wouldn't know it was either a single strike or maltiple strikes that killed the general, so it stayed "a" U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani. Is this probably correct?
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    then we would take it to mean a strike that killed the general.
    Does this interpret that we would take it to mean that it was either a single strike or maltiple strikes that killed the general but we don't know at this point which it is.
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    Kansi, we would simply interpret this to mean one strike. We would not think of multiple strikes. You are trying to read far to much into a normal use of the indefinite article.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    Kansi, although the selection of a/an, the, or no article is sometimes significant and a clear-cut choice, in the specific sentence you have quoted, I would not attach any importance to the choice of a/the.

    The writer could have used either and the vast majority of readers would not have regarded it as significantly and reliably affecting the meaning.

    Note spelling: multiple.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Kansi, we would simply interpret this to mean one strike. We would not think of multiple strikes. You are trying to read far to much into a normal use of the indefinite article.
    Well so it's the only one strike that killed the general? maybe here my problem lies : since you would think of one strike, it doesn't mean the only one strike?( I have been thinking this way and if it's the only one, it should be the definite article.)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    kansi, a "strike" is an attack. It could be made by a single drone or a few squadrons of bombers. It could be a single missile or 50 thousand tons of bombs. If it was made by many bombers it might be called an "air raid". The strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was made by a naval battle group using bombs, rockets and guns.

    A drone strike. An example of an attack made by drones.
    The drone strike. An attack made by drones, that we already know about.

    Either of those would do in the OP text.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    The phrase "a missile strike" tells us nothing about how many missiles were used. It tells us that there was one strike
    I meant,
    you said there was nothing about how many strikes were used.But you also said there was one strike. you said a number..I am a bit lost about how I should understand that indefinite article.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    kansi, a "strike" is an attack. It could be made by a single drone or a few squadrons of bombers. It could be a single missile or 50 thousand tons of bombs. If it was made by many bombers it might be called an "air raid". The strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was made by a naval battle group using bombs, rockets and guns.

    A drone strike. An example of an attack made by drones.
    The drone strike. An attack made by drones, that we already know about.

    Either of those would do in the OP text.
    Sorry I am still confused..
    How I should understand "one example of a U.S. drone missile strike"?

    These two below don't mean same?
    one example of a U.S. drone missile strike
    =
    one U.S. drone missile strike
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    These two below don't mean same?
    one example of a U.S. drone missile strike
    =
    one U.S. drone missile strike
    Here they mean the same.
    you said there was nothing about how many strikes were used.
    No, I did not. I said there was one strike. I also said there was nothing said about by how many drones and with how many missiles.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    I also said there was nothing said about by how many drones and with how many missiles.
    I have already understood that. I have no doubt that it doesn't say about how many drones and how many missiles.

    Then are these sentences same?
    there was one U.S. drone missile strike.
    =
    there was the only one U.S drone missile strike.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Kansi, we would simply interpret this to mean one strike. We would not think of multiple strikes. You are trying to read far too much into a normal use of the indefinite article.
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
    We commonly see the situation here on the forum where learners, whose native language does not include articles, stress over nuances of them that the writer never spend a millisecond trying to decide which to use, since either a definite article would work fine.
    I suspect this is the case here.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Then are these sentences same?
    there was one U.S. drone missile strike.
    =
    there was the only one U.S drone missile strike.
    No. The second is ungrammatical, and in any case, why do you want to introduce the word "only"? Nothing in this thread suggests that the US made two strikes against their target. They made one, and he was killed. As others have said, you seem to be seeking nuances that do not exist.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    kansi, a "strike" is an attack.
    :thumbsup:

    The "strike" in this context is the entire military operation of attacking the convoy.

    "Strike" does not equal "missile".

    If they fired two missiles that is not two strikes. That's two missiles fired during the strike (the attack).

    As Andy says, a military strike is an attack on a target. Pearl Harbor was a great example. That entire operation, dozens of ships and hundreds of planes, was a strike. It killed hundreds of people. They were killed by dozens of different bombs, bullets and torpedos. But it was all one strike.

    A headline would say something like "Japanese forces strike Pearl Harbor".

    So the drone strike was the entire military operation launched against the general's convoy. He was killed in that strike. It's irrelevant how many missiles hit him because they were all part of the same strike.

    A second strike would be if the drones came back three hours later and fired more missiles. Those would be part of the second strike.

    The answer to the OP question is very straightforward.

    The choice of article was "a" or "the". It has nothing to do with how many missiles were fired. The determining factor is whether the author of the article believed that readers would know about the incident already. The indefinite article "a" is used when it is believed a large number of readers might not be aware of the event that is being mentioned. It introduces the concept to them - a standard use of the indefinite article. If the author assumes the event is generally known by everyone, "the" may be used.

    The strike was launched in retaliation for the U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani...

    "The" would be used if the writer thought it was general knowledge or it had been previously described in the same news article, making it general knowledge for the readers of the article.

    A lot of times they err on the side of caution and assume significant numbers of people don't know and therefore use "a". Now those people reading that article have learned that there was an attack on General Soleimani. It was a drone attack by the U.S. military. The U.S. military has made other drone attacks at other times, in other places, on other targets.
     
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    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Nothing in this thread suggests that the US made two strikes against their target.They made one, and he was killed.
    They made one, and he was killed.
    →so They made the only one, and he was killed.
    →this is how I understand it.

    But it seems like I misunderstand about the meaning of "the only one".

    Aren't "one" and "the only one" same,right?
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    "Strike" does not equal "missile".
    I had understood this part.

    The choice of article was "a" or "the". It has nothing to do with how many missiles were fired.
    I might have made a mistake on some threads but I am not saying it has something to do with how many missiles were fired.
    I am saying whether it has something to do with how many strikes were fired/done.

    Does the choice of a/an or the have also nothing to do with how many strikes were fired/done?
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The choice of "a" was made because it was one strike of many that the U.S. has carried out over the years of a certain type. What type of attack was it? It was a missile strike (using one or more missiles) launched by one or more drones. It was a drone missile strike. It was a strike of that type. It didn't use planes, it didn't use ground troops, it wasn't an amphibious operation, it wasn't high-level bombing, it was an operation where drones flew over and fired missiles.

    It's a missile strike not because one missile was fired, but because missile is being used as an adjective. Adjectives aren't plural. A missile strike means one or more missiles. A drone strike means one or more drones.

    Just like a car dealer sells many cars, not just one car. We don't say he is a cars dealer and we don't say it's a missiles strike even when there's more than one of each.
     
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    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    The choice of "a" was made because it was one strike of many that the U.S. has carried out over the years of a certain type.
    *thank you giving a lot of comments.

    But before there is ,before U.S. drone missile strike in the OP sentences , that that-clause:that
    (acctually) killed Qassem Soleimani.

    I understand that the U.S. has carried out many strikes but one in those many killed the general. what that that-clause can modify is one strike, not all of those many strikes, right?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Again, this is a news article and they don't assume all their readers know about the story. So they call it a U.S. drone missile strike to describe the event to readers who aren't familiar with it. That answers the question of what kind of attack it was and by who. And then they tell why it's significant, and why it might have prompted retaliation. It's a drone missile strike that killed an Iranian general.

    So now the reader knows, if they didn't before, what type of attack it was, who carried out the attack, what the outcome of the attack was and what the nature of the retaliation was.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    this is a news article and they don't assume all their readers know about the story. So they call it a U.S. drone missile strike to describe the event to readers who aren't familiar with it.
    I see.

    So, even though one strike killed the general, the writer assumed the readers wouldn't know about the story, so it's "a" that is used before U.S. drone missile.

    This part is still puzzling.

    In the OP sentences,
    a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani
    the that-clause: that killed Qassem Soleimani modifies a U.S drone missile strike, right?

    In your sentences,
    The choice of "a" was made because one strike of many that the U.S. has carried out over the years of a certain type.
    This sentence sounds like telling me the fact many strikes have been carried out by the U.S. over the years of a certain type is influencing the choice of the articles. But this fact isn't written in the OP sentences. so is something out of in the OP sentences influencing the choice of the articles there?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Again this is a news article so the writers have to make judgements on what their readers already know, might not know, and couldn't know. They can't explain every last detail of every last thing in every last article.

    They surely assume that readers know what a drone strike is since they have been in the news for years. They are not going to explain those. They probably rightly assume that not every reader will have heard about this particular drone strike, since it's recent. So they introduce the idea that there was a recent drone strike that killed an Iranian general. If the reader is not familiar with it, "a" is the appropriate article. It introduces something that was not specifically known previously.

    I walked into a room with a table. There was a book on the table.​

    The article "a" is used in all those places because the reader knows nothing about those things until the author introduces them with "a". Using "the" would be inappropriate since the reader doesn't know about them.

    I walked into the room with the table. There was the book on the table. :thumbsdown:

    The reader will immediately ask, "What room? What table? What book?"

    By using "a" you introduce the idea of a type of thing. You can use "the" when the same thing is referred to a second time. (As in the green the above. That is the second time the table is mentioned).

    So the writer of the news story uses "a" to inform readers who don't know about it that a strike of that type by the U.S. occurred. For readers who already know about it, "the" could be used since it's already introduced to them. But the writer can only choose one word, and informing readers of the news is his job so he can't assume they already know it. The people who do know it can ignore "a" and think "the".

    So what are the Iranians retaliating for? They are retaliating for a recent U.S. drone strike. (If you didn't know there was a recent U.S. drone strike, now you do.) Why would they be retaliating for this drone strike if they haven't retaliated for others? Because this strike killed one of their generals.
     
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    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Again this is a news article so the writers have to make judgements on what their readers already know, might not know, and couldn't know. They can't explain every last detail of every last thing in every last article.

    They surely assume that readers know what a drone strike is since they have been in the news for years. They are not going to explain those. They probably rightly assume that not every reader will have heard about this particular drone strike, since it's recent. So they introduce the idea that there was a recent drone strike that killed an Iranian general. If the reader is not familiar with it, "a" is the appropriate article. It introduces something that was not specifically known previously.

    I walked into a room with a table. There was a book on the table.​

    The article "a" is used in all those places because the reader knows nothing about those things until the author introduces them with "a". Using "the" would be inappropriate since the reader doesn't know about them.

    I walked into the room with the table. There was the book on the table. :thumbsdown:

    The reader will immediately ask, "What room? What table? What book?"

    By using "a" you introduce the idea of a type of thing. You can use "the" when the same thing is referred to a second time. (As in the green the above. That is the second time the table is mentioned).

    So the writer of the news story uses "a" to inform readers who don't know about it that a strike of that type by the U.S. occurred. For readers who already know about it, "the" could be used since it's already introduced to them. But the writer can only choose one word, and informing readers of the news is his job so he can't assume they already know it. The people who do know it can ignore "a" and think "the".

    So what are the Iranians retaliating for? They are retaliating for a recent U.S. drone strike. Why would they be retaliating fur this drone strike if they haven't retaliated for others? Because this strike killed one of their generals. The previous ones did not.
    I understand all you told me in #34.


    ⇩this, what I said in the last reply, is wrong, right?
    so is something out of in the OP sentences influencing the choice of the articles there?
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    so the writers have to make judgements on what their readers already know, might not know, and couldn't know.

    so this is what influences the choice of the articles, not the other things are.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, it's standard English.

    If something is not known to the reader/listener you introduce it with "a/an". If the thing is already known to the reader/listener then you can should refer to it as "the".

    I found a gold coin on the ground. The coin was from Roman times.

    There was a U.S. drone missile strike on an Iranian general. The strike killed the general.


    If something is thought to be known by the reader/listener already because it's common knowledge you can skip saying "a".

    There was a strike by a country called the U.S. using a technology called a missile fired from an aerial vehicle called a drone against a person with a military rank called general from a country called Iran. :thumbsdown:

    We don't need to explain all those things. We assume that the average reader knows about the country called the United States and the country called Iran. We assume they know what a drone is, what a missile is and what a strike is. We assume they know about the military rank of general. What they might not know is that there was a specific recent strike that killed "an" (one of many of that type) Iranian general. So that's the information we introduce to the reader by saying "a U.S. drone missile strike".

    Here's the first paragraph of the story and the second one you quoted.

    The Pentagon said Friday that 34 U.S. troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries suffered in this month's Iranian missile strike on an Iraqi air base, and that half of the troops have returned to their military duties.​
    No one was killed in the attack on (the air base called) Ain al-Asad. The strike was launched in retaliation for a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani...​

    The same thing is happening in the first paragraph. They tell you the news that Iran attacked "an" Iraqi air base. They don't say "the" Iraqi air base because the reader does not know about it in the first paragraph. Later in the article they name the air base. That's the equivalent of saying "the" because now we know it's a specific air base that was mentioned earlier for the first time.
     
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