went to the mountains that surround the area

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
Hi, I would be much obliged if any one of you would help me know if 1 was better, and that the mountains that surround the area did not mean all the mountains that surround the area but some of the mountains.

[1] We stayed in Denver, and went to the mountains that surround the area.
[2] We stayed in Denver, and went to mountains that surround the area.

I presume what decides if the range of referents covers all or some is the pragmatics of the discourse, not semantics. In other words, the use of the does not automatically tell you that the noun phrase refers all the possible referents.
 
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  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    [1] doesn't imply that you went to every mountain. So your last sentence is correct. We went for a walk in the mountains refers to the general area. It doesn't mean we went up every mountain.
    [2] suggests that you're thinking of individual mountains. You didn't go to every mountain.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    [1] doesn't imply that you went to every mountain. So your last sentence is correct. We went for a walk in the mountains refers to the general area. It doesn't mean we went up every mountain.
    [2] suggests that you're thinking of individual mountains. You didn't go to every mountain.
    Hi Rhitagawr.

    Thank you very much.

    So, 2 is not unnatural, is it? I was thinking, besides what I asked, that I'd say 'We stayed in Denver, and went to some mountains that surround the area' but that I wouldn't 2.

    Your take sounds like 'the mountains' refers to the part of the surrounding mountainous area where they hiked whereas the bare 'mountains,' as you said, individual mountains. Correct?
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    Personally I'd say some mountains, i.e. not all of them. There seems to be a BE/AE difference. The British say some where the American's tend to leave it out. But I'd like to get a second opinion on this. You could avoid this problem, if that's what it is, by saying some of the mountains. I wouldn't say 2 was unnatural.
    The idea of individual mountains was only a suggestion. I wouldn't want to be dogmatic about it.
     
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    1 is fine for the reasons rhitagawr explains. You stayed in Denver and visited the mountains nearby. "The mountains" is a general description of the area. People "go to the mountains", "take a trip to the mountains", have a vacation home "in the mountains", etc.

    For 2, in AE as well we would more likely say "some of the mountains" or "a few of the mountains" rather than just "we went to mountains." 2 does sound a bit unnatural to me simply because I don't think it's what native speakers would normally say.

    Note that if you say "we went to some of the mountains nearby" (the Rocky Mountains don't surround Denver. The city sits on the eastern edge of the range; most of the countryside surrounding Denver is flat plain. My apologies for the geography lesson. 🙂), you are implying that you made a special trip to specific mountains and drove up the scenic roads that climb them. If you just drove around in the mountains, enjoying the scenery without making a special point to visit any one of the local peaks, you would most naturally say "... and went to the mountains nearby."

    On an unrelated point, there should be no comma after "Denver" in any of your sentences because it separates the subject from its verb.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Hi, I would be much obliged if any one of you would help me know if 1 was better, and that the mountains that surround the area did not mean all the mountains that surround the area but some of the mountains.

    [1] We stayed in Denver, and went to the mountains that surround the area.
    [2] We stayed in Denver, and went to mountains that surround the area.

    I presume what decides if the range of referents covers all or some is the pragmatics of the discourse, not semantics. In other words, the use of the does not automatically tell you that the noun phrase refers all the possible referents.
    In this sentence "We went to the mountains" the "mountains" is not the kind of plural that distinguishes it from one mountain - it is a description of an area, rather than a collection of individual mountains. We might say "When we went to California, of course we went to the redwoods and the wineries." In none of these cases would we interpret it to mean all of them.
     
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    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    Perhaps mountains on its own would be more likely in a different context. We saw mountains, lakes, and forests. I don't think I'd say mountains on its own in the OP sentence if I were describing my holiday.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    2 does sound a bit unnatural to me simply because I don't think it's what native speakers would normally say.
    :thumbsup: more than a bit

    Denver is definitely not surrounded. The mountains begin to the west of Denver.

    PSX_20220508_113339.jpg
     
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