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Use of the articles with nouns in some syntactical functions
§ 206. 1. A noun in thesubject position is usually preceded by the definite article in its specifying function, or by either of the articles in their generic function. In these cases the noun denotes some notion forming the starting point of the utterance and therefore is presented as known to both the speaker and the addressee.
The way was long. The wind was cold.
The minstrel was infirm and old.
The indefinite article in its classifying function occurs to express the idea of novelty or unexpectedness, no matter what the position of the subject is:
On the opposite side of the landing a girl was standing.
A girl was standing on the opposite side of the landing.
Such sentences are translated into Russian with inverted word order:
На другой стороне площадки стояла девушка.
A similar use of the indefinite article occurs in sentences with the existential construction There is (comes, appears, etc.), as in:
There is an exception to the rule.
2. When used asa predicative the noun is usually preceded by the indefinite article in its classifying function. The position of the predicative is most suitable for the manifestationof the classifying function and for giving some new information:
This is a house.
George is a telephone engineer.
The definite article before a noun in this position suggests the identity of the object expressed by the predicative noun with that expressed by the subject:
This is the house that Jack built.
He is the telephone engineer (the one we have sent for).
The absence of the article before predicative count nouns indicates:
a) that the noun has lost its original meaning and suggests some social position, post or title:
Mrs Mantoffle was president of all sorts of societies and committees.
With this knowledge he can be king.
He was on the programme as assistant stage Manager.
J. F. Kennedy was elected President in I960.
b) that the idea of quality or state predominates over the idea of thingness (usually when the noun is
preceded by ‘more’orfollowed by ‘enough’).
Fool, fool that she was to get into such a state.
But you’ll be man enough to tell me the truth.
Randal was in the end more artist than scientist.
3. With the noun functioning asobjects any article can be used depending on how the speaker formulates his thought; the indefinite article is preferable after verbs of possession and obligatory in verb-object phrases denoting a single action such as to have a smoke, to give a look, etc.
4. The use of the articles with nouns in the function ofan adverbial modifier depends partly on the type of adverbial modifier.
Inadverbial modifiers of place the definite article is used in its specifying function to identify the exact place:
Jane is in the garden.
The indefinite article in its classifying function is preferable when the attention is focused on a description of the place rather than on its identification, as in: Crystal lived alone in a small shabby house.
Inadverbial modifiers of comparisonthe indefinite article is preferably used in its classifying function with the generic tinge since comparison is drawn with a representative of the class: e.g. I can read you like a book. It is used also in phraseological combinations as strong as a lion, as hard as a nail, as meek as a mouse, etc.
5. Inattributesthe indefinite article is used to emphasize the importance and novelty of the notion mentioned. Therefore we find the indefinite article in such phrases as the son of a teacher, the daughter of a doctor, or
6. Inappositioneither of the articles can be used, depending on whether the noun in apposition serves to classify or to identify the notion expressed by the noun:
I've got acquainted with Mr Smith, an architect.
We've got acquainted with Mr Smith, the architect.
There is a substantial difference in the communicative value of the apposition depending on the use of the articles. The indefinite article implies that the listener (reader) does not know anything about the person or thing denoted by the head-noun and requires some new knowledge about it. Here the indefinite article has a classifying function:
Have you ever heard of 'Caesar's Wife', a play by Maugham?
Paul Long, a neighbour of yours, will be visiting us this evening.
The definite article implies that the listener (reader) is supposed to be familiar with the person or thing mentioned from his general knowledge or the situation
I want to speak to Mr Smith, the electrician.
"Hamlet", the tragedy by Shakespeare, has been screened many a time.
Note a restrictive appositions in noun phrases of the kind: the (famous) novelist Gr. Greene, the novel "The Heart of the Matter", the number ten (цифра десять) (but: page number 10), the noun "story" the letter "e".
§ 207. According to their way of nomination adjectives fall into two groups -qualitative andrelative.
Qualitative adjectives denote properties of a substance directly (great, cold, beautiful, etc.).
Relative adjectives describe properties of a substance through relation tomaterials (woollen, wooden, feathery, leathern, flaxen), to place (Northern, European, Bulgarian, Italian), totime (daily, monthly, weekly, yearly), to some action (defensive, rotatory, preparatory),or to relationship (fatherly, friendly).
Qualitative adjectives in their turn may be differentiated according to their meaning into descriptive, denotinga quality in a broad sense(wonderful, light, cold, etc.) and limiting, denoting a specific category, a part of a whole, a sequence of order, a number (the previous page, an equestrian statue, medical aid, the left hand).
Limiting adjectives single out the object or substance, impart a concrete or unique meaning to it, specify it, and therefore can seldom be replaced by other adjectives of similar meaning.
Among limiting adjectives there isa group of intensifiers, which often form a phraseological unit with their head-word, for example: an obvious failure, a definite loss, a sure sign, a complete fool, absolute nonsense, plain nonsense, the absolute limit.
Relative adjectives are also limiting in their meaning.
Many adjectives may function either as descriptive or limiting, depending on the head-word and the context. Thus a little finger may denote either a small finger or the last finger of a hand. In the first case little is descriptive, in the second it is limiting. Likewise musical in a musical voice is descriptive, while it is limiting in a musical instrument.
Adjectives also differ as to their function. Some of them are used only attributively and cannot be used as p r e d i с a t i v e s (a top boy in the class, but not *the boy was top): some are used only as predicatives and never as attrubutes (He is well again, but not *The well boy).
The change in the position and, accordingly, of the syntactic status of the adjective may also result in the change in the meaning of the adjective. Thus in a fast train the adjective is limiting and denotes a specific kind of train (скорый поезд), whereas in the train was fast the adjective is descriptive, as it describes the way the train moved (поезд шел на большой скорости).
§ 208. According to their morphological composition adjectives can be subdivided intosimple, derived andcompound.
In the case ofsimple adjectives such as kind, new, fresh, we cannot always tell whether a word is an adjective by looking at it in isolation, as the form does not always indicate its status.
Derived adjectives are recognizable morphologically. They consist of one root morpheme and one or more derivational morphemes - suffixes or prefixes. There are the following adjective-forming suffixes:
Some adjectives are former participles and therefore retain participial suffixes: charming, interesting, cunning, daring.
The suffixes -ly, -ed, -ful, -ary, -al, -y are not confined to adjectives only. Thus, many adverbs are derived from adjectives hy means of the suffix -ly (strongly, bitterly, quickly). Most of the verbs form their past tense and participle II with -ed. There are many nouns with the suffixes -al (festival, scandal, criminal), -ary (boundary, missionary), -ful (mouthful, handful), -y (sonny, doggy), etc.
Compound adjectives consist of at least two stems. They may be of several patterns:
a) consisting of a noun + an adjective:
b) consisting of an adjective + an adjective:
c) consisting of an adverb + a participle:
well-known, newly-repaired, much-praised;
d) Consisting of a noun/pronoun + a verbal:
all-seeing, heart-breaking, high-born, high-flown, man-made;
e) consisting of an adjective/adverb + a noun + the suffix -ed:
blue-eyed, long-legged, fair-haired, down-hearted.
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