Author Topic: Limits of 'the'  (Read 6213 times)

Miss Mae

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Limits of 'the'
« on: March 15, 2012, 06:08:05 PM »
What should we consider when enumerating things in a sentence? Should every kind of room specified in this particular sentence be introduced by the article 'the' or is the construction just fine?

Choose from the Moroccan room at €105 ($137), English room at €125 ($163), Swedish room at €140 ($182), and Carribean at €105 ($137).

I asked because I wish to construct the sentence like this:

Choose from the Moroccan room at €105 ($137), English room at €125 ($163), Swedish room at €140 ($182), and the Carribean at €105 ($137).

Joe Carillo

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Re: Limits of 'the'
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 11:15:22 PM »
When making a serial enumeration in a sentence, the listing should be kept parallel by ensuring that every item listed is in the same grammatical form—whether all noun forms, all adjective forms, all verbal forms (infinitives, gerunds), etc.* As to article usage, “the” or “a”—or none of them—can be used for each item or used only once at the beginning of the serial list; the choice is largely a matter of style on the part of the writer.

When evaluated using these two grammatical yardsticks, the original construction and your revised construction fail either the parallelism test or article-usage test, or both.

Take a close look at the original construction:

“Choose from the Moroccan room at €105 ($137), English room at €125 ($163), Swedish room at €140 ($182), and Caribbean at €105 ($137).”

The serial list above is unparallel because the fourth item in the list, “Caribbean,” is an odd-man out without the word “room” right after it. It should be listed as “Caribbean room” to be parallel with all the proper names of the rooms in the list, as follows:

“Choose from the Moroccan room at €105 ($137), English room at €125 ($163), Swedish room at €140 ($182), and Caribbean room at €105 ($137).”

Your revised construction is in even worse grammatical shape:

“Choose from the Moroccan room at €105 ($137), English room at €125 ($163), Swedish room at €140 ($182), and the Caribbean at €105 ($137).”

It fails the parallelism test because three of the items—Moroccan room, English room, and Swedish room—have the word “room” in them but the fourth item, “Caribbean,” doesn’t have it. It also fails the article-usage parallelism test because two items—“the Moroccan room,” “the Caribbean”—have the article “the” but the other two items—“English room” and “Swedish room”—don’t have it.

Here’s how that sentence can be made parallel and consistent in article usage through and through:

“Choose from these rooms: Moroccan, €105 ($137), English, €125 ($163), Swedish, €140 ($182), and Caribbean, €105 ($137).”
or:
“Choose from these rooms: the Moroccan, €105 ($137), the English, €125 ($163), the Swedish, €140 ($182), and the Caribbean, €105 ($137).”

*MUST-READING:
Using parallelism to achieve structural balance in writing

Miss Mae

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Re: Limits of 'the'
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 07:44:36 PM »
Thank you, Sir. But what if I didn't forget to indicate 'room' in the sentence?

Choose from the Moroccan room at €105 ($137), English room at €125 ($163), Swedish room at €140 ($182), and the Carribean room at €105 ($137).

Is it acceptable now? 'The Philippines' and 'the Netherlands' can get away with it...

« Last Edit: March 20, 2012, 02:05:49 PM by Miss Mae »