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A little/a few and little/few

A/an and one

A a/an and one (adjective)

1 When counting or measuring time, distance, weight etc we can use either a/anor one for the singular:

£1 = a/one pound £1,000,000 = a/one million pounds (See chapter 36.)

But note that in The rent is £100 a week the a before week is not replaceable by one (see 2 F)

In other types of statement a/anand one are not normally interchangeable, because one + noun normally means 'one only/not more than one' and a/andoes not mean this

A shotgun is no good (It is the wrong sort of thing )

One shotgun is no good (I need two or three )

2 Special uses of one

(a) one (adjective/pronoun) used with another/others

One (boy) wanted to read, another/others wanted to watch TV

(See 53 )

One day he wanted his lunch early, another day he wanted it late

(b) one can be used before day/week/month/year/summer/winter etc or before the name of the day or month to denote a particular time when something happened

One night there was a terrible storm One winter the snow fell early One day a telegram arrived

(c) one daycan also be used to mean 'at some future date'.

One day you 'II be sorry you treated him so badly (Some day would also be possible ) (For one and you, see 68 )

B a/an and one (pronoun)

one is the pronoun equivalent of a/an

Did you get a ticket? ~ Yes, I managed to get one The plural of one used in this way is some

Did you get tickets? ~ Yes, I managed to get some

a little/a few and little/few

A a little/little(adjectives) are used before uncountable nouns:

a little salt/little salt a few/few(adjectives) are used before plural nouns.

a few people/few people All four forms can also be used as pronouns, either alone or with of:

Sugar? ~ A little, please

Only a few of these are any good

B a little, a few(adjectives and pronouns)

a littleis a small amount, or what the speaker considers a small

amount, a few is a small number, or what the speaker considers a small number.

onlyplaced before a little/a fewemphasizes that the number or amount really is small in the speaker's opinion:

Only a few of our customers have accounts But quiteplaced before a few increases the number considerably:

/ have quite a few books on art (quite a lot of books)

C littleand few(adjectives and pronouns)

little and fewdenote scarcity or lack and have almost the force of a negative:

There was little time for consultation.

Little is known about the side-effects of this drug.

Few towns have such splendid trees.

This use of littleand fewis mainly confined to written English (probably because in conversation littleand fewmight easily be mistaken for a little/a few).In conversation, therefore, littleand feware normally replaced by hardly anyA negative verb + much/manyis also possible:

We saw little = We saw hardly anything/We didn't see much.

Tourists come here but few stay overnight =

Tourists come here but hardly any stay overnight. But littleand fewcan be used more freely when they are qualified by so, very, too, extremely, comparatively, relatively etc. fewer(comparative) can also be used more freely.

I'm unwilling to try a drug I know so little about

They have too many technicians, we have too few

There are fewer butterflies every year.

D a little/little(adverbs)

1 a little can be used-

(a) with verbs: It rained a little during the night.

They grumbled a little about having to wait.

(b) with 'unfavourable' adjectives and adverbs: a little anxious a little unwillingly

a little annoyed a little impatiently

(c) with comparative adjectives or adverbs:

The paper should be a little thicker

Can't you walk a little faster?

rathercould replace a littlein (b) and can also be used before comparatives (see 42), though a littleis more usual. In colloquial English a bit could be used instead of a littlein all the above examples.

2 littleis used chiefly with betteror morein fairly formal style'

His second suggestion was little (= not much) better than his first.

He was little (= not much) more than a child when his father died It can also, in formal English, be placed before certain verbs, for example expect, know, suspect, think:

He little expected to find himself in prison He little thought that one day Note also the adjectives little-known and little-used: a little-known painter a little-used footpath

6 the (the definite article)

A Form

theis the same for singular and plural and for all genders: the boy the girl the day the boys the girls the days

B Use

The definite article is used.

1 When the object or group of objects is unique or considered to be unique:

the earth the sea the sky the equator the stars

2 Before a noun which has become definite as a result of being mentioned a second time:

His car struck a tree; you can still see the mark on the tree

3 Before a noun made definite by the addition of a phrase or clause:

the girl in blue the man with the banner the boy that I met the place where I met him

4 Before a noun which by reason of locality can represent only one particular thing:

Ann is in the garden (the garden of this house)

Please pass the wine, (the wine on the table)

Similarly, the postman (the one who comes to us), the car (our car), the newspaper (the one we read).

5 Before superlatives and first, second etc. used as adjectives or pronouns, and only:

the first (week) the best day the only way

C the + singular noun can represent a class of animals or things.

The whale is in danger of becoming extinct.

The deep-freeze has made life easier for housewives But man, used to represent the human race, has no article

If oil supplies run out, man may have to fall back on the horse. thecan be used before a member of a certain group of people:

The small shopkeeper is finding life increasingly difficult the + singular noun as used above takes a singular verb. The pronoun is he, she or it

The first-class traveller pays more so he expects some comfort.

D the + adjective represents a class of persons: the old = old people in general (see 23)

E the is used before certain proper names of seas, rivers, groups of islands, chains of mountains, plural names of countnes, deserts, regions

the Atlantic the Netherlands

the Thames the Sahara

the Azores the Crimea

the Alps the Riviera

and before certain other names

the City the Mall the Sudan

the Hague the Strand the Yemen

theis also used before names consisting of noun + of + noun

the Bay of Biscay the Gulf of Mexico

the Cape of Good Hope the United States of America

theis used before names consisting of adjective + noun (provided the adjective is not east, west etc )

the Arabian Sea the New Forest the High Street theis used before the adjectives east/west etc + noun in certain names

the East/West End the East/West Indies

the North/South Pole but is normally omitted

Smith Africa North America West Germany the,however, is used before east/west etc when these are nouns

the north of Spam the West (geographical)

the Middle East the West (political)

Compare Go north (adverb in a northerly direction) with He lives in the north (noun an area in the north)

F the is used before other proper names consisting of adjective + noun or noun + of + noun

the National Gallery the Tower of London It is also used before names of choirs, orchestras, pop groups etc

the Bach Choir the Philadelphia Orchestra the Beatles and before names of newspapers (The Times) and ships (the Great Britain)

G the with names of people has a very limited use the + plural surname can be used to mean 'the family'

the Smiths = Mr and Mrs Smith (and children) the + singular name + clause/phrase can be used to distinguish one person from another of the same name

We have two Mr Smiths Which do you want-1 ~ I want the Mr

Smith who signed this letter

theis used before titles containing of(the Duke of York) but it is not used before other titles or ranks (Lord Olivier, Captain Cook), though if someone is referred to by title/rank alone theis used

The earl expected The captain ordered

Letters written to two or more unmarned sisters jointly may be addressed The Misses + surname The Misses Smith.

7 Omission of the

A The definite article is not used

1 Before names of places except as shown above or before names of people

2 Before abstract nouns except when they are used in a particular sense

Men fear death but

The death of the Prime Minister left his party without a leader

3 After a noun in the possessive case, or a possessive adjective

the boy s uncle = the uncle of the boy

It is my (blue) book = The (blue) book is mine

4 Before names of meals (but see 3 C)

The Scots have porridge for breakfast but

The wedding breakfast was held in her father s house

5 Before names of games He plays golf

6 Before parts of the body and articles of clothing as these normally prefer a possessive adjective

Raise your right hand He took off his coat But notice that sentences of the type

She seized the child's collar

I patted his shoulder

The brick hit John s face could be expressed

She seized the child by the collar

I patted him on the shoulder

The brick hit John in the face Similarly in the passive

He was hit on the head He was cut in the hand

B Note that in some European languages the definite article is used before indefinite plural nouns but that in English theis never used m this way Women are expected to like babies (i e women in general) Big hotels all over the world are very much the same If we put thebefore women m the first example, it would mean that we were referring to a particular group of women

C nature where it means the spirit creating and motivating the world of plants and animals etc is used without the

If you interfere with nature you will suffer for it

8 Omission of the before home,before church, hospital, prison, schooletc and before work, sea and town

A home

When home is used alone i e is not preceded or followed by a descriptive word or phrase, theis omitted He is at home

home used alone can be placed directly after a verb of motion or verb of motion + object, i.e. it can be treated as an adverb

He went home I arrived home after dark I sent him home But when home is preceded or followed by a descriptive word or phrase it is treated like any other noun:

They went to their new home.

We arrived at the bride's home.

For some years this was the home of your queen.

A mud hut was the only home he had ever known.

Date: 2015-12-18; view: 871

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