The Functions of Nouns in the Sentence

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The Functions of Nouns in the Sentence

§ 21.Nouns may have different functions in the sentence. They
may serve as:

The subject,

e.g. Lifeconsists in accepting one's duty.

2) an object(direct, indirect and prepositional),

e.g. You did such splendid work.

General Drake handed theman his medal.
He won't listen to any advice.

3) a predicative(non-prepositional and prepositional),

e.g. The town has always been a quiet and dignified little place.
The place was in disorder.

An objective predicative,

e.g. They elected him presidentof the club.

5) a subjective predicative,

e.g. He was appointed squadron commander.

6) various adverbial modifiers(usually as part of prepositional

e.g. I lived near Victoria station in thoseyears.
He spoke in a different tone.

7) an attribute(in the genitive case, in the common case and as
part of prepositional phrases),

e.g. His officer'suniform gave slimness to his already heavy fig-

For some time he read all the travelbooks he could lay his
hands on.

He set off on a tour of inspection.

An apposition,

e.g. He told us about his father, a teacher,who died inthe war.

The following classification seems to be suitable for the purpose:



§ 1. The article is a structural word specifying the noun. The
absence of the article, which may be called the zero article,also
specifies the noun and has significance. J

There are two articles in English which are called thedefinite
and theindefinite article.

The use of articles, as well as their absence, has grammatical
meaning and follows certain rules. There are cases, however, in
which the use of articles cannot be accounted for grammatically
as it has become a matter of tradition. This is found in numerous
set phrases, as in: at night — in the night, in the distance — at a
distance, as aresult of — under the influence of, to take the trou
ble — to take care of, to be in danger — to be in a rage,

The traditional use of articles is also found in other cases. For
example, names of countries are generally used without any article
but the names of certain countries or regions, owing to a well-es-
tablished tradition, are associated with the definite article (e.g. the
Crimea, the Caucasus, the Congo, the Sudan, the Tyrol, the Ruhr
and some others).

Thus, in dealing with the use of articles it will be necessary to
divide all the cases into two groups which may be called the gram-
matical use of articles
and the traditional use of articles.

The grammatical use of articles is dependent on the character
of the noun.

In order to describe the use of articles we need some classi-
fication of nouns upon which our description will be based.

1 The absence of the article is not to be confused with the deliberate omission of
the article for stylistic reasons as seen in newspaper headings, stage directions, tele-
grams, etc.

e.g. Newspaper headlines: Biggest Brain Drain Source in Britain

Fight over Market

Stage remarks: Catherine enters from kitchen, crosses down to window,
looks out.

Note. Nouns denoting unique objects (e.g. the sun, the moon) or unique notions
(e.g. the past, the plural) are neither countable nor uncountable.

As is seen from the above table, proper names form a special
category and the use of articles with them should be treated sepa-
rately. With common nouns, the use of articles is dependent on
whether a noun is countable or uncountable.


The Indefinite Article

§ 2.With countable nouns,both concrete and abstract, the in-
definite article is used when we wish to name an object (a thing, a
person, an animal or an abstract notion), to state what kind of ob-
ject is meant.

e.g. He gave her acigarette and lighted it.

There came a tapat the door, and a small elderly manen-
tered the room, wearing a blackcap.

This function may be called the nominating function.

But at the same time, owing to its origin from the numeral
one, the indefinite article always implies the idea of oneness and is
used only before nouns in the singular.

The idea of oneness may sometimes become quite prominent. It
occurs in the following cases:

a) a hundred, a thousand, a minute, a mile, etc.

b) after the negative not — not a word, not a trace, not a

c) in some set phrases — one at a time, at a draught (as in:
He emptied his glass at a draught), a stitch in time saves nine,

§ 3. When the speaker uses the indefinite article, he just
names an object which is usually new to the hearer. So the indefi-
nite article is often used to introduce a new element in the sen-
tence. Since the new element is, as a rule, important and attracts
attention, the noun with the indefinite article frequently becomes
the centre of communication and is marked by strong stress.

e.g. I think he is a stupid fellow.

Presently the Browns arrived. They brought with them a

small child, a governess and a dog.
The table was covered with a white cloth.

In contrast to this, the definite article usually indicates that a
definite object is meant and that it is not new to the hearer. That
is why it often serves to show that the noun is not the centre of
communication. Compare the following sentences:

e.g. I bought a book yesterday.
I bought the book yesterday.

From the first sentence the hearer learns what object was
bought yesterday. So a book is the new element in the sentence.
From the second sentence the hearer learns when the book was
bought (he already knows that the speaker bought a book). In this
case the book is not the centre of communication.

In the Russian language which has no article, the centre of
communication is usually marked by word-order and also stress.


A boy rushed into the room. The boy rushed into the room. They were sent to a conference in May. They were sent to the conference in May.

В комнату вбежал мальчик.
Мальчик вбежал в комнату.
Их послали в мае на конфе

Их послали на конференцию

в мае.

This distinction between the two articles is very helpful in
most cases but the rule does not always hold good. We may find
sentences in which a noun with an indefinite article does not serve
as the centre of communication and is not marked by strong stress
, (a) and, vice versa, a noun with the definite article marked by
strong stress may become the most important element of communi-
cation (b).

e.g. a) A camel can carry heavy loads,
b) "Shut the door," he ordered.

It follows from the above examples that the use of the indefi-
nite article with nouns serving as the centre of communication is
i to be regarded as an additional rule.

§ 4. With uncountable nouns, the indefinite article serves to
bring out a special aspect of the notion expressed by the noun. In
this case its function may be called aspective.

e.g. A dull burning anger rose in his chest.
He had almost a supernatural courage.

In this case the noun is usually qualified by an attribute which
also brings out a special aspect. In its aspective function the indef-
inite article is devoid of the idea of oneness.

The Definite Article

§ 5. When used with countable nouns, either concrete or ab-
stract, the definite article has two distinct functions:

1) It may be used with singular and plural nouns to show that
the noun denotes a particular object (a thing, a person, an animal
or an abstract notion) or a group of objects as distinct from the
others of the same kind. In other words, the definite article serves
to single out an object or several objects from all the other objects
of the same class. This function is called the individualizing func-
tion of the definite article.

e.g. The car stopped. Paul got out and stretched himself.

As we stood on the steps, we felt the smell of fallen leaves

coming from the garden.
Margot took up the telephone.

2) The definite article may also have the generic functionwith
countable nouns. With nouns in the singular it serves to indicate
that the noun becomes a composite image of the class.

e.g. The tigerhas always had the reputation of being a man-eater.
The linguistis interested in the form and meaning of all pos-
sible statements in a language.

§6. With uncountable nouns,the function of the definite arti-
cle may be called restricting.

The definite article restricts the material denoted by a concrete
uncountable noun to a definite quantity, portion or to a definite
locality (a); it also restricts the abstract notion expressed by an
uncountable noun to a particular instance (b).

e.g. a) He slowly pulled on his gloves, concentrating on each fold

in the leather.

As we came out into the cold damp air,she shivered,
b) The workseemed to consist chiefly of interviewing young

women for jobs in department stores.
I did not wish to betray the anxiety I felt.

Absence of the Article
(the Zero Article)

§ 7.The absence of the article (the zero article) has only one
function with common nouns — the nominating function.

This function of the zero article may be found with countable
nouns in the plural;
it is parallel to the use of the indefinite arti-
cle with singular countable nouns. But while the indefinite article
is associated with the idea of oneness, the zero article always im-
plies more-than-oneness.

e.g. Marion came round the corner of the house, wearing garden-
gloves and a very old skirt.

My mother gave me some pennies to buy applesor a magazine.

She had a splitting headache and took an aspirinand sleep-
ing pills.

The nominating function of the zero article is also found with
uncountable nouns, both abstract and concrete(names of materials).

e.g. Last night I felt friendshipand sympathyfor Henry, but to-
day he has become an enemy.
Lifegoes on, changeless and ever changing.
Winterbourne asked for waterand drank thirstily.


General Rules for the Use of Articles
with Countable Nouns

§ 8.Countable nouns in the singular may be used with the in-
definite article in its nominating function and with the definite ar
ticle in its individualizing function.

e.g. They couldn't travel without acar there.

While her suit-case was being taken out of the car, she looked


He shut the door behind his wife and handed me a cigar.
didn't enjoy thecigar because it was damp.

In the plural, countable nouns may be used without any article
. or with the definite article. The absence of the article has nominat-
ing force and the definite article is used in its individualizing

e.g. They couldn't travel without cars there.

While their suit-cases were being taken out of thecars, they

looked round.

He shut the door behind his wife and handed us cigars.
We didn't enjoy thecigars because they were damp.

Note. Note the use of the noun things in the meaning 'circumstances', 'condi-
tions', 'events in general', 'the present state of affairs'. It is used without any ar-
ticle in this meaning.

e.g. Your refusal will only make things worse.
Things aren't going very well at the firm.
I told him that you've let things slide for long enough.
Your father is making a mess of things.
You take thingstoo seriously.
I must think things over.

§ 9. Since the choice of articles is determined by the context or
the general situation, we should take into consideration attributes
modifying the noun as they constitute part of the context. At-
tributes are generally divided into two classes: limitingand de-

A limitingattribute indicates such a quality or characteristic
of an object (or a group of objects) which makes it distinct from
all other objects of the class.

e.g. She lost her temper: 'It's themost unpleasant thingyou've

ever told me."
She sat listening but the sound of her pounding heartcovered

any other sound.
Alice smiled to him and took the letterhe held out to her.

A descriptiveattribute is used to describe an object (or a group
of objects) or give additional information about it. This kind of at-
tribute does not single out an object (or a group of objects) but
only narrows the class to which it belongs.

e.g. He wrote a novel.

He wrote a good novel.

He wrote a good historical novel.

Inthe above examples a good novel belongs to a narrower class
than a novel, and a good historical novel belongs to a still narrow-
er class.

We find the same in:

e.g. He smiled at the girl as she came down the stairs wearing a

Red raincoat with a hood.

To the left there was a long room with a narrow table strewn
with periodicals.

Nouns modified by limiting attributes are used with the def-
inite article.

Nouns modified by descriptive attributes may be used with ei-
ther the indefinite or the definite articles, as the choice of articles
for countable nouns is not affected by this kind of attribute.

But the division of attributes into two classes is not very helpful
for practical purposes, since most attributes are not limiting or de-
scriptive by nature. Taken by themselves, they are neutral, and it is
only in the context that they acquire limiting or descriptive force.

e.g. He was going to build a new house.

Shortly after he moved to the newhouse, he fell ill.
We shall take a road going through theforest as it won't be
so hot there.

We shall take the road going through the forestas it is a
short cut.

The above examples show that attributes as such cannot gen-
erally be regarded as reliable criteria for the choice of articles.

Nevertheless we find a number of attributes which are distinct-
ly limiting owing to their form of expression. In order to set them
apart, we must survey the use of articles with countable nouns
modified by all types of attributes.

§ 10. The useof articles with countable nouns modifiedby ad-
jectives. Attributes expressed by adjectives are usually descrip-

She drove an oldcar.
His office was in a fine,gay, busy little street.

As was stated above, descriptive attributes do not affect the
lice of articles. Thus we may find a noun modified by a descrip-
attribute used with the definite article.

The woman looked at me shrewdly and there was a glint of hu-
mour in thedark eyes.
We lay lazily on the steep bank, looking at the tall reeds.

The definite article in this case is accounted for by the situa-
tion but not by the attribute.

Note. The adjective pronouns all and whole are to be treated as descriptive at-
tributes. The use of articles with nouns modified by these attributes is determined
by the situation.

All children like ice-cream.

All the children watched the game with excitement.

He never stayed a whole evening with us.

He spent the whole evening watching the telly.

The adjective pronoun such is also a descriptive attribute, but, unlike all and
whole, it is never combined with the definite article.
Your father is such a handsome man.
I'm not prepared to believe such things about my son.

But adjectives may become limiting attributes when contrast
is implied- In this case they are marked by stronger stress.

e.g. Will you pack my things for me? I want the little suit-case

as I'llbe away only one night.

She saw a car pull up at the curb with two women in it.
The younger womanasked her the way to the railway station.

Adjectives in the superlative degree, however, are always limit-
ing attributes.

e.g. She was the smartest girlin the room.

"The most dangerous personof all is my uncle," the young
man whispered.

Note 1. Compare the following sentences.

e.g. He's the most experienced doctor I know.
He's a most experienced doctor.

In the first sentence we find the superlative degree of experienced which ac-
counts for the use of the definite article. In this combination both most and expert
are stressed. In the second sentence most is an adverb of degree ('крайне`,
'чрезвычайно), so the whole combination is a descriptive attribute and most is
unstressed here.

Note 2. The combination a best suit ('выходной костюм') and a best seller
('ходкая книга') are set phrases.

Some adjectives, adjective pronouns and adjectivized toff-forms
almost always serve as limiting attributes. The most important of
them are: right ('тот, который нужен'; 'правильный') and wrong
('не тот'), very, only, main, principal, central, left and right,
same, coming, following, present, former
('первый') and latter

e.g. It just seems to be the wrongway to go about it.

My chief is the right manin the right place.

The questions you ask are the very questions Iam putting

My mother was the only personwhom I told what had hap-

My relatives take a very grave view of the present situation.

Besides, there are other adjectives which commonly, though
not always, serve as limiting attributes, e.g. proper ('надле-

жащий', 'правильный'), adjacent, alleged, lower, necessary, op-
posite, previous, so-called, upper, usual,
and some others.

Note 1. An only child is a set phrase ('единственный ребенок у родителей').
i e.g. She is as spoiled as if she were an only child.

But we say: She was the only child present in the drawing room.

Note 2. Nouns modified by the adjectives next and last are generally
used with the definite article.

e.g. We shall probably eat at the next table to him.

My father had not read the last seven pages of the book.

But when these adjectives modify nouns denoting time, actually coming or
just past from the point of view of the speaker, there is no article at all.

e.g. He said: "No, you can't see her. She went to London last week"

He said: "I am determined not to spend more than ten pounds on my clothes

next year and so I'll manage by myself."
It must be noted that in narration there is a fluctuation in the use of articles
with nouns modified by next. We find either the definite article or no article at all.
e.g. We had not been sitting long in the drawing-room before Mr March was ar-
ranging a timetable for the next day.
I sent her a wire and she met me at the station next day.
Note 3. Note the difference in the use of articles with nouns modified by the
adjective pronoun other. The definite article is used with a singular noun modified
by other if there are only two objects of the same description.

e.g, He pulled on the other glove and said he would run along to his office.

If there are more than two objects of the same description, the indefinite arti-
cle is used (another). In this case another has three meanings: 'еще один', 'любой
другой', and 'не такой', 'иной'.

e.g. Could I have another cup of tea?

"You can do as well as another man," he said.
When I came back I found him in another mood.

The definite article is used with a plural noun modified by other if there is a
definite number of objects divided into two definite groups.

e.g. Of the three people invited by her for the weekend, one had already arrived.

Her husband wanted to know when the other guests were expected.
My mother needed me more than the other members of the family.

In this case the other guests, the other members, etc. means 'the rest'.
If some objects are divided into two groups and either one of the groups or
both of them are indefinite, there is no article.

e.g. I was thinking of other people in the same position.

Her brothers, as a rule, could not make themselves good friends to other men.

In this case other people, other men, etc. means 'другие'.

The same rules are applied to other when it is used as a noun pronoun.

e.g. He drove with one hand, and used the other to draw diagrams in the air.

Young Martin was first sent on an errand to the grocer, then on another to the

Then Katherine remembered about her mail: "The only letter I've opened is my

husband's. Lewis, will you fetch in the others?"
When people say they do not care what others think of them, for the most part

they deceive themselves.

Note 4. The other day is a set phrase meaning 'недавно', 'на днях'.

§ ll. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by
numerals. Cardinal numerals serve as descriptive attributes.

e.g. He had refused three invitations to golf, his excuse to his
friends being that he had no time.

If a noun modified by a cardinal numeral is used with the def-
inite article, this is accounted for by the situation or context.

e.g. By candlelight the two men seemed of an age if indeed not of
the same family.

Ordinal numerals are usually limiting attributes.

e.g. During the second week in October she met him in Oxford

However, when ordinal numerals are not used to indicate or-
der but acquire the meaning 'one more' or 'another', the noun
they modify is used with the indefinite article.

e.g. They must have a third race to decide who is the real winner.
After a moment's hesitation she added a fourth spoonful of
sugar to her tea.

Note 1. The above mentioned rule does not apply to the numeral first. The combi-
nation a first night ('премьера') and a first prize are to be regarded as set phrases.

Note 2. Different articles are used in the following patterns with nouns modi-
fied by cardinal and ordinal numerals: the third chapter but chapter 3 (three), the
fifth page
but page 5 (five).

§ 12. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by
participles. Attributes expressed by participles (see "Verbals''.

§§ 173-180; 252-254) are placed either in pre- or post-position to
, the noun they modify.

When they are placed in pre-position, they are usually de-
scriptive attributes, like adjectives.

e.g. They lived in a newly painted house.
There was a faded photograph and an ash-tray on the desk.
The use of the definite article in this case is usually accounted
for by the context or the general situation.

e.g. At the corner of the street there shone the lighted windows
of a club.

She collected the scattered pages of the letter and put it
away into her desk.
In post-position we usually find participle phrases but not sin-
gle participles. They may be either descriptive (a) or limiting (b)
attributes, according to the context or situation.

e.g. a) It was a very small room, overcrowded with furniture.

He took a medicine prescribed by the doctor.
b) I adopted the tone used by my uncle Henry.

At length I reached the sixth floor, and knocked at the
door numbered thirty-two.

§ 13. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by
ing forms. Attributes expressed by ing-forms (see "Verbals",
§§ 163-172; 227-232) are placed either in pre- or post-position to
the noun they modify.

When they are placed in pre-position, they are usually de-
scriptive attributes.

e.g. He looked at me with a mocking smile.
He turned and saw a crying boy.

In post-position the ing-form may be either non-prepositional
or prepositional. We generally find phrases and not single ing-
forms here. Both kinds of these phrases may be descriptive (a)
and limiting (b) according to the context or situation.

e.g. a) There was no answer and he sent a telegram saying that
he needed some work done urgently.

John had an odd way of looking at things.
b) He took the path leading to the lonely cottage.

He could not bear the thought of leaving her in such a

§ 14. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by in-
finitives. Attributes expressed by infinitives tend to be descrip-
e.g. He willingly accepted an invitation to spend the weekend out

of town.

I made an attempt to smile.
He suddenly felt an impulse to laugh.

Yet, sometimes, depending on the situation or context, the in-
finitive may become a limiting attribute.

e.g. They did not have the money to buy the house.
That's not the way to speak to your parents.

At last he forced himself to lie quietly on his back fighting
the desire to answer back.

§ 15. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by
clauses. Nouns can be modified by two kinds of clauses — attrib-
utive (A) and appositive (B).

A. Attributive clauses qualify the noun. They may be intro-
duced by the relative pronouns who, whose, which and that, by
the relative adverbs where and when or asyndetically.

e.g. I will not describe the pictures that Strickland showed me.
His pictures gave me an emotion I could not analyze.
He wandered about the place like a man who has nothing else
to do.

Attributive clauses fall into two groups:

1) Attributive clauses that can be removed from the sentence
without destroying its meaning. They are marked by a pause sep-
arating them from the principal clause. In writing they may be
separated by a comma. These clauses are never joined to the prin-
cipal clause asyndetically. Clauses of this kind are called non-de-
fining clauses and they are always descriptive and do not influence
the choice of the article. So the use of the article is determined by
other factors (the context and other attributes).

e.g. She told me that she had discovered a wonderful young man,
who was going to help her in the East End.

She asked me a question, which I did not hear.

On her sofa there was a note-book open, in which she was
preparing her lessons for the term.

When he at last got to the office, where he spent so many
dull hours, he gave a sigh of relief.

2) Attributive clauses so closely connected with the antecedent
that they cannot be left out without destroying the meaning of
the sentence. There is no pause between this kind of clause and
the principal clause, and in writing they are never marked off by
a comma. Such clauses may be joined to the principal clause ei-
ther by connective words or asyndetically. Attributive clauses of
this kind are called defining clauses and they may be limiting or
descriptive, depending on the situation or context.

When attributive clauses are limiting, the definite article is
used with the antecedent.

e.g. He took the cigarette that Robert offered him.

Iremembered what I used to feel about the young men Charles

brought to the house.
In the back of her mind was the memory that it was the city

her friend came from.

In Russian the antecedent in this case may be modified by the
words тот самый... который.

When attributive clauses are descriptive, the article with the
antecedent is determined by the context or the situation.

e.g. She stared at me with an expression that made me uncom-

"It's not a story I could tell anyone else, Harry," he said.
As a girl my mother had expected a husband who would give
her love and position.

In Russian the antecedent in this case may be modified by the
words такой, который ..., такого рода (типа), который... .

В. Appositive clauses disclose the meaning of the noun. They
can modify only certain abstract nouns, such as idea, feeling,
hope, thought, impression, sense
and the like. Appositive clauses

are usually introduced by the conjunction that ('что') and are
similar to object clauses.

e.g. He had the feeling that all his efforts proved to be futile.

He put off the thought that he ought to have tackled the con-
versation differently.

Appositive clauses are generally limiting attributes.

e.g. "I am sorry", she said, and I had the impression that she

meant it.

The idea that he can be of use made him happy.
I was annoyed by the sense that nothing intellectual could
ever trouble him.

Occasionally, however, the noun modified by an appositive
clause is used with the indefinite article.

e.g. She had an impression that Charlie was speaking to his cous-
in rather than to her.
I had a growing feeling that time was running out.

§ 16. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by
nouns in the common case. Attributes expressed by nouns in the
common case are usually descriptive.

e.g. There was a glass door leading into the passage.
A silver tray was brought in with tea cups on it.
He sat on a kitchen chair.

When the modified noun is used with the definite article, this
is accounted for by the situation, not by the attribute.

e.g. At the study door he stopped for a moment.

Lanny looked at the dining-room window and smiled.

Sometimes, however, nouns in the common case may serve as
limiting attributes.

e.g. I reached the house just as the Whitehall lamps were coining

Do you believe we can leave the Sawbridge question where it is-

In this case the attribute is usually expressed by a proper name
and serves to show that reference is made to a particular object.

§ 17. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by
nouns in the genitive case. The use of articles with nouns modi-
fied by other nouns in the genitive case is specific. Before we
speak of the choice of the article it is necessary to find out to
which element of the combination it refers.

As has been said (see "Nouns", § 17), there are two kinds of
the genitive case:

1) the specifying genitive which denotes a particular person or
thing, as in: my mother's picture, the man's voice, the river's bed.
In this case the article refers to the noun in the genitive case and
is chosen in accordance with the general rules.

e.g. the boy's

the boys'
a boy's books

When the noun in the genitive case is a proper name, there is naturally
2) the classifying (descriptive) genitive, which refers to a
whole class of objects, as in: sheep's eyes, a doctor's degree, a
mile's distance.
In this case the article refers to the head-noun
whereas the noun in the genitive case serves as a descriptive at-
tribute. The article for the head-noun is chosen in accordance with
the general rules.

e.g. We had not walked a mile's distance when we saw the river.
It was only a mile from the cottage to the nearest village but

the mile's walk in the hot sun seemed very long to Jim.
Is there a butcher's shop in the street?
"I am looking for the butcher's shop," he said, "that used to

be here when I was a child."

As the article here refers to the head-noun, the noun in the
genitive case may have the plural form and yet be preceded by the
indefinite article, as in: a soldiers' canteen, a girls' school, a three
miles' walk, a fifteen minutes' break.

e.g. Would you like to go to a soldiers' canteen and get some

The College has a two years' course.

§ 18. The use of articles with countable nouns modified by
prepositional phrases.
Attributes may be expressed by nouns with
various prepositions. Depending on the context or the situation,
they may be either descriptive(a) or limiting(b).

e.g. a) But you must know that a marriage with a boy in a jazz

bandwouldn't last a year.

A man under such circumstancesis always very helpless,
b) He always felt ill at ease among the callers at hissister's


The darkness was almost complete, and the boats in the har-
were swaying to the rhythm of the sea's breathing.

Within this type of attributes special consideration should be
given to the so-called of-phrasewhich is very common. Of-phrases
may serve as descriptive and limiting attributes.

Descriptive of-phrases are recognized by clear-cut meanings.
They denote:

quality —a book of interest, a feeling of relief, a question of im-
portance, a portait of a girl,

quantity or measure —a temperature of + 20°, a distance of
three miles, a box of two tons,

composition —a group of children, a flock of birds, a party of
twelve people, a team of hockey players,

material —a wall of glass, a ring of gold, a scarf of thick wool,

content —a cup of tea, a bottle of milk, a packet of cigarettes, etc.

age —a boy of five, a man of middle age, etc.

size —a sailor of middle height, a building of enormous size, etc.

comparison —a wild cat of a woman (=a woman like a wild cat),
an angel of a wife (=a wife like an angel), a devil of aboy
(=a boy like a devil), etc.

Here also belong such combinations as: a friend of mine, a
book of my own,

Nouns modified by descriptive of-phrases usually take the in-
definite article. But the definite article may also be used and then
it is accounted for by the context or by the situation.

All other of-phrases are limiting and, consequently, the head-
noun is used with the definite article. As limiting of-phrases ex-
press a great variety of meanings there is no point in classifying

them. The most common types of combinations are: the house of
my neighbour, the wife of a miner, the foot of the mountain, the
collar of a shirt, the smoothness of a new machine, the shot of a
gun, the development of science, the roaring of the ocean, the in-
vention of the radio, the use of articles, the name of John, the
city of New York, the position of a teacher, the colour of amber,
the shadow of a tree, the outline of a boat.

In some cases, however, the choice of the article is affected
not only by the nature of the of-phrase but also by the following

1) If the head-noun denotes an object which is the only bearer
of the property expressed by the of-phrase, the definite article is
used: the president of the club, the glow of a lamp, the murderer

of Caesar, the monitor of the group, etc.

2) If there are many objects of the same description, the indef-
inite article is used: a member of the club, a student of the group,

a puff of wind, etc.

3) The definite article is used, alongside the indefinite, when
В there is a definite number of component parts: the (a) leg of the

table, the (a) wheel of the car, the (an) ear of adog.

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