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English as a Second Language/definiite/indefinite article

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Question
Hi again Amy.

I read the following in my kid's textbook.

____________________________________
Scene 2: At the pool party

Cinderralla: Who is that?
Fairy: Who?
Cinderella: The girl in the red dress, the girl with the lovely eyes, the girl with the perfect face, the girl with the umbrella

___________________________________________________________

As Cinderlla is pointing to a specific girl in a specific, identified, red dress. Therefore we have to use "the".

I have the following questions.

If we don’t use the definite article ‘the’ in the following context, is it incorrect?

Cinderlla: Who is that?
Fairy: Who?
Cinderlla: The girl in a red dress, the girl with lovely eyes, the girl with a perfect face, the girl with an umbrella.

Is there a difference in the following sentences?

1. Janet is the girl who is reading a book.
2. Janet is the girl who is reading the book.

Please note than I understand the basic definition of the 'definite article' (the) and 'indefinite article' (a), and their usage.

Many thanks for your selfless devotion in the past.

Best Regards,
CH

Answer
Hi CH,

the proper use of articles in English can be a tough and confusing topic.

As far as your specific questions:

"The girl in a red dress, the girl with lovely eyes, the girl with a perfect face, the girl with an umbrella."

Since we're talking about a specific girl you'd actually have to use the definite article to describe her: so it's "the red dress", "the lovely eyes", "the perfect face" and "the umbrella"

Let's take "a red dress" as an example- that means "any red dress" and here the sentence requires you to be more specific than that, therefore "the girl in the red dress". Same thing for her eyes, face and umbrella.



1. Janet is the girl who is reading a book.
vs
2. Janet is the girl who is reading the book.

Both sentences are correct but they have different meanings.

1 - Janet is the only girl in a group of people reading a book.

2 - Janet is the only girl in the group who is reading a particular book. There might be others around her reading books, but she's the only one reading "the"/that particular book (whatever book you have in mind).

Let me know if this answers your questions.

Regards,  

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

Expertise

I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

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I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

Education/Credentials
BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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