General Writing and Grammar Help/question


Which one is correct to say?what is your favorite animal?
A.My favorite animal is a cat.
B.My favorite animal is cat.

Neither is correct.

1. B is wrong because there must be an article preceding this noun. In English there are three articles, a, an, and the. (The first two are "indefinite" articles, the last the "definite" article.) Before most nouns an article is required, while in come cases the article is omitted or may be optional. Unfortunately there is no reliable rule for when the article may be omitted.

2. A is wrong because the article must be the definite article. When a singular noun refers to a class, the definite article must be used. Hence:
      The ape is the smartest of non-human animals but
      An ape approached me yesterday.

Correct would be:

My favorite animal is the cat.

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Richard Johnson


I can answer any question--usually the same day--on correct English grammar, usage, and (non-fiction) writing style, usually the same day, based on the American practice. All answers are explained, and I encourage follow-up.


I'm a retired editor and a lifelong student of this subject. My library includes a great many works to which I've referred through the years. I currently rely primarily on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.

For over 30 years I edited the newsletter of my own organization, which had different names but was last known as

BA, Brooklyn College. Advanced studies in economics and political science.

Awards and Honors
For many years a member of Mensa.

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