Jan. 5, 2019

Sentence 005 Let the cat out of the bag.

Leslie: Which Sentence is the worst?

Ilona: ’Man is walking down the street.’

L: Why?

I: Because the Sentence doesn’t have an article.

L: The noun has an article, not the sentence.

I: Right. That’s what I mean.

L: Which one is also bad?

I: ’The man is walking down the street.’

L: Yes, but why?

I: I feel it but I don’t know.

L: Do you know this man?

I: No, I don’t.

L: Have I introduced him, or have I mentioned him before?

I: No, I have never heard of him before.

L: Then, we cannot use ’The man’. It doesn’t have an antecedent.

I: What is an antecedent?

L: It is somebody or something we mentioned before. In ’I’m sending this bar of chocolate to Sophy. Please take it home and give it to her.’ ’Sophy’ is the antecedent to ’her’. Without mentioning Sophy first, the word ’her’ has either no meaning at all, or it has too many meanings. When we mention ’her’ in the second sentence, we understand ’Sophy’.

I: Now I see.

L: Back to our Sentence, when we first mention him, we say ’A man’. It means that we don’t know him or we haven’t mentioned him before. When we mention him for the second time, we can say ’The man’, meaning the man in the first sentence.

I: Now, I understand.

L: Great. Please listen to me and answer my questions.

I: OK, I’m ready.

L: ’A man is walking down the street.’ Do you know this man?

I: No I don’t and you haven’t mentioned him before.

L: ’The man is carrying a basket.’ Now, do you know this man?

I: I still don’t know him but you have mentioned him before. You mentioned him in the first Sentence. That’s why it is ’The man’.

L: Do you know the basket?

I: No, I don’t and you haven’t mentioned it before. That’s why it is ’a basket’.

L: ’The basket is full of sausages.’ Now, do you know the basket?

I: Yes, it is the basket is the last Sentence.

L: ’A dog is following the man with the basket.’ Do you know this dog?

I: No, I don’t and you haven’t mentioned it before. That’s why it is ’A dog’.

L: Do you know the man and the basket?

I: Yes, I do; you have mentioned them before.

L: ’The dog is smelling the sausages in the basket.’ Do you know the dog in this Sentence?

I: Yes, we know everything: the man who walked down the street, the basket, the sausages, and the dog. You have mentioned them all before. They are the man, the basket, the sausages and the dog. And now I understand the difference between ’A man’ and ’The man’, and all the others.