Two questions.

    What does 'The' mean ? Us Brits use it a lot.
    Why does a piece of dry bread give you hiccups ?

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    Original Poster Banned


    If you examine a sample of English writing or speech, and count how many times the various words in it appear, you will be struck by an interesting fact. Except perhaps in very short samples, there is always one particular word which appears more than all the rest by far. It is always the same little word. That word is the, the most frequently used word in the English language.

    Obviously, a word used this often must be very important to the speakers of the language. Yet no speaker of English has to study how to use this word in school. No native speaker has to consciously learn the many rules for its use. Every speaker learns the use of the word the through years of experience, and probably never gives it a second thought. Unless, of course, the day comes when he has to try and teach the use of the word to speakers of a language which doesn't have it. For them, for speakers of languages like Japanese, it is probably the most difficult English word of all to learn to use correctly.

    The word the is very important to native speakers of English because it is used to divide the world we process through language into two categories: old information and new information. It helps us to divide the world into things which we agree are known, or important, and things which we feel aren't. If you understand how we use this word, you will have a key to how we look at the world. And if you learn how to use this word, we will understand you clearly.

    The is one of the grammatical words of English. It does not have any real meaning by itself, but rather it is used as a way of sending a signal about other words. The words it sends signals about are always nouns.

    In that sense English is a rather materialistic language. The word the is used to help us talk about things, rather than events. The is used as a signal meaning that the speaker (/writer) wants the listener (/reader) to understand whether the thing being spoken of is shared (old) information, or new information, worthy of note.

    For example, the following sentences can be considered for the opening sentence of a story:1

    1a. The boy was walking down the main street of the town.
    1b. The boy was walking down a main street of the town.
    1c. The boy was walking down a main street of a town.
    1d. The boy was walking down a main street of town.
    1e. The boy was walking down Main Street.

    2a. A boy was walking down the main street of the town.
    2b. A boy was walking down a main street of the town.
    2c. A boy was walking down a main street of a town.
    2d. A boy was walking down a main street of town.
    2e. A boy was walking down Main Street.

    Sentence 1a uses the three times; before 'boy', 'main', and 'town'. The listener / reader realizes that he is expected to know:

    1. who the boy is,
    2. what the town is, and
    3. that it is a relatively small town.
    This last piece of information comes from the phrase "the main street" which presents "old information," the common knowledge that towns have one or more main streets, and small towns have a single main street, designated as "the main street (of (a/the/0) town)".
    This use of the is a literary device to bring the reader into the story "midstream". It's as if had he opened the book to the middle and started reading. He's "supposed to" know who and where, but actually, he doesn't.

    This use of the is for "natural properties," but what English speakers consider to be natural properties of things and what speaker of other languages think may be different things. The English speaker has somehow acquired the "knowledge" that small towns have a single main street, and that therefore when speaking of that street, the the of natural property is used. This is the same use as in the phrases "Open the door," "Close the window," "the wind is strong," "I'd like to speak to the manager," etc. All these signal "the one you'd expect," "the one everybody knows".


    To begin to understand how the is used, we must first think about nouns. All nouns are not the same. To begin with, we can divide all nouns into two large groups: proper nouns, and common nouns.
    common Proper
    Proper nouns are names. They are names for people, streets, books, movies, restaurants, countries, rivers, songs, etc. They indicate one specific thing, they point to one and only one example of a type. English proper nouns are always written with the first letter capitalized. Words like John, Japan, Mars, Fifth Avenue, Ginza, etc, are all proper nouns. Proper nouns don't need a the. It's as if they already have one attached, so they can't (except under certain unusual circumstances) take another one. They already mean "the one you know"

    Common nouns, on the other hand, are general words for types of things. They do not stand for one specific example of a thing, but rather for a class of things, for a type of thing. Words like pencil, boy, river, book, etc, are all concrete common nouns. They can never be used without some form of classifier or article in dialogue. They are all "things" and so we must either know about them beforehand or not.


    A pencil is a valuable tool.
    The pencil is a valuable tool.
    Pencils are valuable tools.
    These three sentences essentially mean the same thing, a general statement about pencils. But the question forms:
    Did you bring a pencil?
    Did you bring the pencil?
    Did you bring pencils?

    are all asking for different information.
    English common nouns are of two types, countable and uncountable.

    common Proper
    countable uncountable
    Countable nouns are words for things which can be counted, so they can be preceded by numbers, or by words like many, several, a few, etc. Such words as book, pencil, boy, river, etc, are countable. Countable nouns can have both singular and plural forms2.
    Uncountable nouns are also called mass nouns. These are words for things like water, wood, air, cotton, wool, etc, which are not countable, but are measurable. When we talk about quantities of these things we use words like much, some, a lot of, a little, or measuring words like "a cup of water" "a liter of milk" "a kilogram of wool", "a piece of wood", etc.

    So we have a picture of types of nouns which looks like this:

    common Proper
    countable uncountable
    singular plural
    To begin with, let's look at singular, countable, common nouns, which we can just call singular nouns. They have a special rule. Singular nouns are always preceded by one of a small group of special grammatical words, which we will call "determiners".

    These singular determiners, the grammatical words which are used before singular nouns, are of five types3:
    a/an4, (some5), the
    this, that
    counting words
    each, every, one, no, any
    possessive pronouns:
    my our
    your your (pl)
    his/her/its their
    question words:
    which, whose, what
    This means, for example, that a singular noun such as "book" can never appear in a sentence like:

    *I have book.7
    But with a determiner, there are many possible setences like that:

    I have a book.
    I have the book.
    I have that book.
    I have your book.

    Of course, a noun such as "book" can be modified by any number of adjectives, such as "big", "thick", "red", etc.. We call a noun with modifying words a noun phrase, but even if it is a noun phrase, it must be preceded by one of the determiners. So this sentence is also not an acceptable English sentence:

    *I have big, thick, red book.
    To make a correct sentence, it has to be like one of the following:

    I have a big, thick, red book.
    I have the big, thick, red book.
    I have your big, thick, red book.
    I have that big, thick, red book.
    I have John's big, thick, red book.
    One of the rules about determiners is, that there can never be two of them preceding a single noun (phrase). That means there cannot be an English sentence like:

    *I have my that book.
    Some of the words which modify nouns are not as clearly adjectives as those in the sentences above, but rather they appear as phrases like:

    kind of, type of, sort of, variety of, style of...
    But these words also must be preceded by a determiner when they modify a noun. So there cannot be a sentence like:

    *I have kind of book.
    Rather it has to be a sentence like:

    I have that kind of book. or He has some kind of book.
    Other modifying words like other8, same also need to be preceded by a determiner:

    I have the same book. Did you bring the other book?
    Let's take another look at the first rule which can help us in the mastery of the use of the English articles:

    Every singular noun (phrase) must be preceded by one and only one singular determiner.

    Original Poster Banned

    Hiccups are unintentional spasm of the diaphragm, which is the muscle located at the base of your lungs. The spasms cause your lungs to suck in air quickly, after which your epiglottis (a flap of tissue that covers your windpipe when you're swallowing so you won't inhale food into your lungs) slams shut. This is what produces the "hiccupping" sound. Usually the reason someone gets the hiccups is not known. More often than not hiccups start for no apparent reason and then they usually go away after just a few minutes. However, there are some things that are known to sometimes contribute to getting the hiccups.
    Eating some foods may make it more likely for you to get the hiccups. These include hot and spicy foods or drinks and carbonated beverages. Eating and drinking too quickly or too much can give you the hiccups as well, as can consuming too much alcohol.
    Aside from foods and beverages, other causes of hiccups can include sudden changes in temperature, emotional stress and excitement. There are some medications that can make you prone to hiccups, such as epilepsy medications, anesthesia and barbiturates. You're also more likely to get the hiccups after having stomach surgery, if you're a smoker or if you chew nicotine gum.
    If your hiccups do not go away on their own and last for longer than 48 hours, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions. Persistent hiccups may be a symptom of a stroke, a cyst, tumor or goiter, or a disorder of the central nervous system (such as multiple sclerosis) or metabolic system (such as diabetes).
    Some well-known home remedies for hiccups include drinking a glass of water, breathing into a paper bag, holding your breath, eating a spoonful of sugar or having someone scare you. If your hiccups are persistent there are medications and procedures your doctor may use to treat you.

    My two questions:

    1: Where was this copied from?
    2: Why do you post such rubbish in misc?

    Original Poster Banned


    My two questions:1: Where was this copied from?2: Why do you post such … My two questions:1: Where was this copied from?2: Why do you post such rubbish in misc?

    My two answers-

    1. The Internet
    2. It's 2 questions I would like answering.

    Oh, I've just looked at your posts.... you can't call anyone for posting rubbish.


    I don't know really, it's interesting though (in regards to why we use 'the' so often in writing).

    The end.

    Oh wait.

    Ain't nobody got time for that...

    But the way I see it for anyone who actually cares (didn't read much of the post):

    'The' is for something singular, 'a' is something common

    For example;

    This is THE place to be, or this is A place to be

    Edited by: "delusion" 4th Jul 2014

    At least he got the attention he so craved
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