According to a textbook I read, we use "the" in front of nouns that indicate unique existences, e.g sun, Eiffel tower. However, today I came across this sentence:

"I would like to introduce you to a novel called "Norwegian Forest""

In this sentence, even though there is only one book called "Norwegian Forest", why is it accompanied by "a" ?

  • After this sentence, you refer to this novel as this novel. Until then, you are bringing me information about a book I never heard of. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 23:00
  • I myself know how to use a and the. However, I am trying to come up with a set of rules for my sister. So could you give me give me some rules on when to use the and when to use a? Thank you Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 23:26
  • "A set of rules" ... not likely. Maybe you can get some at ell.stackexchange.com
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 23:48
  • If you're referring to the famous Japanese novel I think you are, the title is usually translated as Norwegian Wood (a reference to a song by The Beatles).
    – The Photon
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 0:23
  • thank you veery much Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


The simple explanation here is that you're being introduced to a novel. The sentence later elaborates to tell you the name of the novel, but the indefinite article can be used simply because novel is an indefinite noun.

This construction, however, is likely simply idiosyncratic. It should be noted that both the definite and indefinite articles are grammatically correct in this specific use case (i.e., when the article introduces an indefinite noun which is later in the same sentence specified to be a definite, singular example of that noun). Which is used is up to the author; it makes no difference in how the sentence should or would be interpreted by a reader.

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