What is the best way to define a new object by using "Something is called [name]"? I have seen all three posibilities, that is:

  1. Fruit of this tree is called apple.
  2. Fruit of this tree is called an apple.
  3. Fruit of this tree is called the apple.

Which ones are correct and which is the most natural one?

  • An apple is correct, because the rule is when noun starts from owel (aeiou) then its always "an" is the prefixed article – Prem Apr 1 '17 at 15:44
  • @Prem I think you mistyped vowel. The rule you cite only distinguishes between a and an. The definite article, the null article and the zero article can all precede such nouns, depending on the context, of course. – Lawrence Apr 1 '17 at 17:47

None of those is grammatical, because you need the definite article in front of fruit. Once you include that, then The fruit of this tree is called an apple is what native speakers would usually say or write, although The fruit of this tree is called the apple might also be possible in some contexts.

  • Thank you for the answer. As I understood the sentence "A probability space with a filtration is called stochastic basis or filtered probability space." is lacking the presence of two indefinite articles. Is that so? – kaniobal Dec 11 '12 at 9:29
  • 2
    That's a different question! – Barrie England Dec 11 '12 at 9:38
  • @kaniobal Depends. If its two names are "stochastic basis" or "filtered probability space", then yes, put an "a" before each of them. If the two names are "stochastic basis" or "stochastic filtered probability space", then only put an "a" before stochastic. – Xantix Dec 11 '12 at 9:38
  • It is the first case. I owe you. Have great day! – kaniobal Dec 11 '12 at 9:44
  • As @Xantix says, if the names are "stochastic basis" and "filtered probability space", you need an article before both. But if the names are "stochastic basis (probability) space" and "filtered probability space", you only need an article before "stochastic basis". – Peter Shor Dec 11 '12 at 15:18

I am going to disagree with Barrie on this. Of course the sentence does need an article at the front, but the fruit name needs a different approach.

The fruit of this tree is the apple.

Is certainly correct.

The fruit of this tree is an apple.

Is also correct.

But the sentence is about what the fruit is called not what it is. The fruit is called "apple", and so I'd say:

The fruit of this tree is called "apple".

This last sentence would be the best choice IMHO. Nonetheless, in conversation I doubt such pedantic plodding is really necessary.


The style depends on the context.

For Song and Movie titles, or category names, use version 1 like:

  • What's the name of this song? It's called "Autumn Leaves."
  • What was the name of that movie with Jackie Chan getting amnesia? It's called "Who am I."
  • What kind of metal is this? It's called manganese.

For naming singular objects, use version 2 like:

  • What a weird fruit...what's it called? The label said it's called a Kiwano.

Naming plural objects:

  • What do you call these? They are called Kiwanos.

Personally, I can't think of any cases where I use version 3 ("called the").

  • Thank you for the answer. I haven't seen "the" until today I started searching to resolve indefinite article vs nothing. It seemed weird though. From what you've said I feel more like case 1 then. For example "A probability space with a filtration is called stochastic basis or filtered probability space." I need to define mathemaical objects. In all the books I read it's kind of mixed up. One instance is with indefinite article, another without. But then again, most of the authors are not native english speakers, so I wondered which possibility is better. – kaniobal Dec 11 '12 at 9:37

protected by tchrist Apr 1 '17 at 16:05

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