she felt the/a sting of tears in her eyes


She felt the sting of tears in her eyes.
Longman dictionary

She felt a sting of tears in her eyes. -- this one tells us that people feel that sting of tears differently and how she feels it is one of the examples/cases (though unspecified). In other words, "a" works here. Correct?
Thank you.
  • BobbieCB

    English - USA Midwest & Southern
    Normally, an English speaker would say "the sting of tears," but you could use "a sting of tears" and there would be nothing wrong with it.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    The sting of tears is the specific sting of tears that we are all familiar with.
    A sting of tears is some non-specific sting of tears. Iit seems that there is more than one possible sting of tears. Perhaps this is an unusual one - her tears sting because she's crying blood, acid, ice crystals, ...
    (I feel I've told you this difference between "a" and "the" many times over the years. ;))


    There are many other differences between "a" and "the" and other cases where they are used so it's all still sometimes confuses me:D.
    Thank you!
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