Which article should I use and why, both seem correct to my senses.

Here I'm talking only about a leg of mine not both.

1a) I have the leg of a footballer.


1b) I have a leg of a footballer.

Here a person only can have a single body.

2a) I have the body of a supermodel.


2b) I have a body of a supermodel.

  • 1
    “the body of a” but “a body like a” – Xanne May 5 '20 at 7:29
  • 1
    Do you have any idea why it is "incorrect"? – English--more exc than laws May 5 '20 at 7:31
  • The leg of a football player and the body of a model—generic nouns representing a class. A body like a supermodel refers to a specific body. – Xanne May 5 '20 at 7:47
  • "A body like a supermodel is a dream for me",here I have generalized it, you can use "a" or "the", "a" simply says any body but of a supermodel and "the" says it as a class. – English--more exc than laws May 5 '20 at 7:56
  • A serial killer could have the body of more than one supermodel. – Hot Licks Nov 1 '20 at 13:39

Where do you keep them? Sorry, had to ask that :-)

I think in both cases it is better to use 'the'. The 'the' here does not refer to a particular limb but is used in a generic sense.

'The giraffe is the tallest of the animals'

'I can play the guitar'

Source: Raymond Murphy, English Grammar in Use, p. 150

  • I know the generic sense, you can also say "A giraffe is a tall animal" but are my examples considered "correct" if I use "a" in it? – English--more exc than laws May 5 '20 at 7:42
  • In my opinion, they're not. The examples with 'a' sound like you have an extremely unusual hobby. Compare 'I have a head of a giraffe' vs 'I have the head of a giraffe'. In my ear, the former clearly means you're talking about a trophy, whereas the latter refers to the shape of your head. – Jules Cocovin May 5 '20 at 7:47
  • So, "I have a body of a supermodel".what's your opinion on this? – English--more exc than laws May 5 '20 at 7:56
  • @English--moreexcthanlaws My final opinion is that it means that you are storing a body of a woman in your wine cellar. If you want to say that you look gorgeous - use 'the'. – Jules Cocovin May 5 '20 at 8:47
  • Lmao that was a stretch, but when you and your friend are watching a fashion show and then you utter this sentence will it be considered as your "stretch"? – English--more exc than laws May 5 '20 at 8:50

You're looking at a snowclone.

  • 'He has the X of a Y'

(where X and Y are suitable nouns/NPs, and 'he' can be a noun, 'she', 'it' or with verb adjustment 'I', 'you' or more rarely 'they').

The articles are respectively always 'the', and almost always 'a/an' though this may be replaced by the zero article if the second N/NP is plural.

'Mind' may be the original noun X, though 'body' is a close contender.

  • "My brother has the mind of a scientist or a philosopher and yet he elects to be a detective." ['Sherlock'].
  • 'This guy has the mind of an 11-year-old.'
  • 'She has the body of an angel.'

Individual body parts for X in examples showing a closer relationship are rather unusual, though expressions like

  • You have your mother's eyes, Harry.'

are of course common. But note that here 'inherited' rather than 'of a type / standard that is usually associated with' is the stronger semantic relation.

Used – let's say morefiguratively – this restriction is less binding:

  • "I have the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox." [Gimli; The Fellowship of the Ring; Tolkien; film adaptation]

But 'I have the leg of a footballer' sounds unusual. 'He has the legs of a fellwalker' seems perhaps more suitable. The comparator is perhaps more likely, and most people have two legs – and while using a single example ('She has a good eye for a bargain') to refer to a plurality is common, novel examples ('the finger of a pianist'; 'the leg of a footballer') don't sound natural.

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