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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > A or The    

A or The

Russian Federation

A or The
Hello everyone,
please help me with articles. Here is a sentence:
Where is ...... red book? It �s in the kitchen.
No context. Why can �t I say the red ball??????
Thank you for your attention.

9 Sep 2011      


If you ask a question: "Where is the  red book?" you are likely to know which one you are looking for...so you are talking about something specific
 It is similar to : "Where are the children?" and it is assumed you are looking for your children not any other.

a red ball - not specified which one, one of the many
the red ball - e.g. the one which is on the floor and is the only one in the room
I have a red ball. I have bought a red ball. I would like a red ball for my birthday.
BUT: Pass me the red ball.  - which means both speaker and listener are talking about one specific ball.

Ijust hope I have been any usuful

9 Sep 2011     

Russian Federation

Thank you dear zuzanavilma,
I just can �t make it out how I can ask about a red ball = any red ball, if people I �m talking to have no idea about the balls at all. If I ask my kids "Where is the blue key" - I believe it always implies that they know what key I mean to find. Asking for the blue key I have specified the key, so I chose �the � article.
Is it correct to say "Where is a red book?"
My neighbour �s teacher said it was incorrect to say "Where �s the red ball" - it should be "Where is a red ball?"
Thank you for help.

9 Sep 2011     


You are correct to use �the �
If YOU are asking about the ball - YOU know there is a particular ball. The question tells the listeners there is a red ball, and they must find where it is.
Where can I buy/ find a red ball? You don �t know if there is a red ball.

10 Sep 2011     

Russian Federation

Dear Apodo,
Thank you so much for your reply.

10 Sep 2011