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Is there a specific rule saying that 'a/an' and 'the' should not followed by the word 'different'?

"I go out to different clubs with my boyfriend".

I know there are some fixed expression for using articles (eg at 'the' weekend ; or in 'the' afternoon ; or take 'a' bath) , but how about putting article in front of the word 'different' in the sentence quoted above?

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closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Feb 23 '12 at 12:32

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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I do go to a different club each evening. Just for the different experiences, of course. Any issues? –  Kris Feb 23 '12 at 7:59
    
It's a plural vs singular issue, as demonstrated by Kris. –  Optimal Cynic Feb 23 '12 at 11:52
    
I'm not sure there's a question in here. "A" is obviously not an option because "clubs" is plural. So that has nothing to do with "different". And "the" can precede "different", not only in the examples provided by Kris, but even in the sentence provided by the OP himself, depending on context. "Out to the different clubs" gets you 390k Google hits. So again, that has nothing to do with "different". What's left is purely an issue of "clubs" vs. "the clubs". And that's just too basic. –  RegDwigнt Feb 23 '12 at 12:30
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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Ultimately, different clubs here is just a colloquialism for various clubs. But different is actually not needed, since you can just say "I go out to clubs with my boyfriend" and everyone will know you mean various or more than one. As is, it is functioning as an indefinite article.

Adding a or the in front of different would be modifying clubs. To see what they would mean on their own, let's try the phrase without different.

First, a:

I go out to a clubs with my boyfriend.

This is grammatically incorrect, since a clubs doesn't agree in number. You could use some clubs to make the number match. But adding back in different is then confusing, because "I go out to some different clubs with my boyfriend" stops different from functioning as an indirect article, suggesting an intentional contrast not heard in the original statement: perhaps it means clubs different from some particular one, and the boyfriend is a different person than present company or a known/understood person.

Now, the:

I go out to the clubs with my boyfriend.

This could be correct, speaking of a definite set of clubs known to the listener by inference or previous reference. But the moment you add back different, you get a conflict in meaning. It makes no sense to use a definite article with an adjective that itself strongly connotes no particular set of clubs. The different sounds extremely unusual. You could say the other clubs but you'd be referring to a particular set of clubs, either itemized or, in contrast to a particular club, all the ones that aren't that particular one.

Update

I go out to a different club with my boyfriend.

This sentence parses correctly but has a narrow meaning: it implies that in comparison to a club known to or understood by the hearer—such as the current club if spoken there—there is exactly one particular club you "go out to" with your boyfriend ("a different" one). If instead you mean multiple clubs or clubs in general, then the new sentence does not work.

If you would explain carefully the situational context, and the exact meaning you intend, it would be easier to tell you the correct sentence to convey that meaning, and it would be easier to explain why all the other options mentioned don't do the job.

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Thank you ErikE for the above answer. So this mean I actually can say : "I go out to a different club with my boyfriend."? Since I have changed the object to a singular noun. –  Part Timer Feb 23 '12 at 6:34
    
Please see update. –  ErikE Feb 23 '12 at 7:24
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