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Which article is appropriate in the blank below, a or the?

— What are you singing? I've heard the song many times.
— This is __ song by Lady Gaga.

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"A" would be correct in that context but actually I would say "That is a Lady Gaga song." –  Kristina Lopez Jan 19 '13 at 11:25
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Thank you very much for your comment. –  Ken Jan 19 '13 at 11:53
    
@KristinaLopez Why this or that? What are you singing? It is a song by Lady Gaga.? –  spiceyokooko Jan 19 '13 at 11:58
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@spiceyokooko, actually, if I was singing a song and someone asked, "What are you singing?", I'd probably say, It's a Lady Gaga song." or "That new Lady Gaga song." "This is a Lady Gaga song." just doesn't sound right to my ear. –  Kristina Lopez Jan 19 '13 at 12:10
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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, Robusto, tchrist, Jon Hanna, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jan 20 '13 at 4:19

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2 Answers

Either one can be used, depending on what you are trying to say.

I'd probably use the word "the" only if I was talking about Lada Gaga's latest hit, one that was getting a lot of airplay on the radio. That would be a shortened way of saying:

This is the song by Lady Gaga [you've been hearing every day on the radio].

If it was one of her former hits, though, like Poker Face or Bad Romance, then I'd almost certainly use a instead of the.

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Thank you for your quick reply. Your explanation is very understandable. –  Ken Jan 19 '13 at 11:32
    
I agree with your answer, J.R., but without that parenthetical addition, which the OP didn't give as an option, the "the" version wouldn't be right, of course. –  Kristina Lopez Jan 19 '13 at 12:04
    
@KristinaLopez: Context is everything, which is what I wanted to emphasize. Far too many of these "which one is right" questions fail to account for the fact that, oftentimes, the "wrong" answer is the "right" answer – under the right circumstances. The O.P. may not have given that as an option (as you said), but the O.P. didn't exclude that condition, either. –  J.R. Jan 19 '13 at 17:04
    
As I find to be true so often, you're right! Context is everything! :-) –  Kristina Lopez Jan 19 '13 at 20:40
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I’m not even sure you need to worry about whether it should be the song, that song or this song. I think I would simply use this:

What are you singing? I've heard it many times.

It’s a song by Lady Gaga, or simply

A song by Lady Gaga.

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