Im having difficulty trying to explain why certain sentences are wrong. For example –
‘We’re going to a seaside for our holidays.’
‘I like the Italian food.’
With the first sentence, I can’t quite explain why we use the seaside instead of a seaside. I know that the is used when talking about a specific thing or person, there is only one or if it is clear which one we are referring but I can’t see that any of these apply to this sentence.
With the second, would that sentence be incorrect because an article is not required when speaking of something in general, for example Italian food?
When we think about "the seaside", we normally think of it as one general place, in the same way that we think about "the beach" as one place.
It’s only when we’re talking about a specific beach or seaside that we use "a" – for example "I’m going to Brighton, it has a lovely beach". (In this case, by the way, I think it would be unusual to say "I’m going to Brighton, it has a lovely seaside" although it’s possible).
So with this argument, by thinking of the seaside as one general place, the rule "…if there’s only one of something" could apply.
However, it could equally be to do with shared knowledge. If it’s clear in a particular context or situation which thing you are referring to, then we use "the". For example:
"Can you shut the door, please?" It’s clear to the two people in this situation which door is being referred to (the door to this room) – in other words, the two people have some shared knowledge which makes it clear which door the person is referring to.
When we talk about "the seaside", this idea of shared knowledge is usually present in a similar way.
In the second example, "I like Italian food", you are absolutely right – we are talking about something in general (not, for example, just the Italian food in this restaurant).
Hope that helps.
10 January, 2011 at 9:07
Total posts: 2
Reply To: Common Grammer Problems
I found that english grammar quite hard in written, but in speaking it is ok
sometimes I also have mistakes like that.
so, when we often use english to write , I think we get better in using in these cases