Please, help..

"There are pens on a table. Take a pen and write down the text" = Take one of those pens?

"Here are some books. I know you like reading. Take a book and read it" = Take one of those books?

Can the indefinite article here refer to instances within a list only, not suggesting instances that are outside the list of pens or books I talk about?

Thanks in advance.

  • Yes, that's pretty much what "indefinite article" means; an article that is indefinite. Unless there's something else narrowing the choice ("Take a pen that has blue or black ink") then any one meets the criteria.
    – Jon Hanna
    Dec 7 '14 at 23:29
  • Thanks for your answer. Unfortunatelly , I don't get your point. I still don't understand if the indefinite article can refer only to the items within a list.. Like here, a person has several TVs at home: "Welcome to my house. If you want to entertain yourself, use a TV". Any TV within a house and not any TV at all? I think it is the context that makes it clear. Saying the last sentence is the same like "Use a TV I have". It is also worth saying, that if there are several windows in a room, people say: "Close a window", but that doesn't mean any in the World... Dec 7 '14 at 23:35
  • Any TV that makes sense in the context. If you've just said "All the rooms have televisions" then that gives a context.
    – Jon Hanna
    Dec 7 '14 at 23:38
  • But isn't it the same with the examples about books and pens? I was confused by your phrase: "without anything narrowing the choice, anything meets criteria" I assume the context makes it clear what items I refer to. I refer to any of the pens on my table. So saying "take a pen" means the same as "take any of those pens, not any in the World." Am I correct? Dec 7 '14 at 23:50
  • Yes, that gives a context.
    – Jon Hanna
    Dec 8 '14 at 0:40

The likely interpretation of those examples is to take one of pens or books offered. It can imagine it could be used with the other meaning, but I can't think of a context in which it would be likely.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.