It's odd that I actually knew a girl of that name--(a / the) name that couldn't have been any sweeter.

I'm confused to choose which article I should use here because they both sound kind of fine in there. If both of them are appropriate in there, then what is the difference, and if not--if either of them is okay, then why is it?

  • 3
    only "a name" sounds right to me. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 14:24

2 Answers 2


The trap here is the possibility of mistaking what you are being definite or indefinite about.

Parse out the sentence a bit and you'll see that a/the applies not to the word "name", but to the entire remainder of the sentence.

"the name that" implies that this is the only name "that couldn't have been any sweeter".

"a name" doesn't assert one way or the other regarding other names and their ability to match the "that couldn't" clause.

Ps. If "the" is chosen for the romantic absolutism it implies, a little bit of italics or something could make a strong statement of authorial intent and call the readers attention to the implication outlined above.


The word, 'Name' is a commom noun. There may be many girls of that name of whom we know one. But in the later half of the sentence, we are dwelling on another aspect of name — its connotation, resonance, sweetness or some other aspects. There are many such sweet names. But her name, to us, is such "A NAME THAT ...ANY SWEETER".

Now we would use 'the' before 'name' since made particular.

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