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(A - The - no article) bird can work in a team. What is the correct answer and why?


Sender Ahmed Rashed
Position Student

Bird is a singular countable noun, so it must have an article. The question is which one. In this particular sentence, either indefinite a or definite the is correct. However, it is not always the case that the indefinite article can be used to make a general statement about a class of things. There are semantic restrictions. To avoid that problem, we have simplified the grammar. Sec 1 and 2 teach students to use the with animals when making general statements, and that is what you should do on an exam. See here and here and here for more details.

 
ed. 10/10/15
 

 
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Sender  Gamal
Other

One of my students asked me a similar question: The wings of a bird enable (birds - a bird - the bird) to fly. I answered it “the bird”. Am I right?

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Editor’s reply:
 
I would have said it if I hadn’t been forced to choose.
 
I can’t say what is the “right” answer here. By the usual rules of articles, we use the indefinite article on the first mention and the definite article on later mentions. That is what you did in your answer. However, the first phrase wings of a bird violates the rule that we taught students — to use the when talking about animals in a general sense. I have no idea what the author of this item thinks is the correct answer, as he or she has already violated the rule and the whole sentence is not natural because a native speaker would use a pronoun instead of repeating bird.
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