the ghosts of the dead

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artart
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the ghosts of the dead

Postby artart » 2021-01-03, 6:49

Are all of these sentences grammatically correct?

a. "That man claims he talks to angels."
b. "That man claims he talks to the angels."
c. "That man claims he talks to ghosts of the dead."
d. "That man claims he talks to the ghosts of the dead."


Does 'the' change anything ?

Do b and d mean that he claims that he talks to all angels/all of the ghosts of the dead?

Could a and c be used if he claims that he talks to all angels/all of the ghosts of the dead?

Rí.na.dTeangacha
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Re: the ghosts of the dead

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-03, 15:12

They are all technically (grammatically) correct.
A sounds like it describes a general ability to talk to angels. B sounds like there were specific angels that had been mentioned previously that he was talking to. e.g.:

"Tom claims he talks to angels. The other day he was visited by five angels in his home, and believe it or not, he actually claims he talked to the angels."

For the second set of sentences, "the ghosts of the dead" sounds like it can be both general and specific, so the formulation in C just sounds slightly less natural than D, though still possible.
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linguoboy
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Re: the ghosts of the dead

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-23, 19:47

+1.
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azhong
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Re: the ghosts of the dead

Postby azhong » 2021-02-24, 2:33

Why is English so elusive for a foreign language learner, a sentence without the being natural in the former group while "slightly less natural" in the latter group by merely slightly changing spirits for ghosts? Any possible rules to follow?

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linguoboy
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Re: the ghosts of the dead

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-24, 2:52

azhong wrote:Why is English so elusive for a foreign language learner, a sentence without the being natural in the former group while "slightly less natural" in the latter group by merely slightly changing spirits for ghosts? Any possible rules to follow?

“Spirits” doesn’t appear in any of the sentences.

For me, it’s the qualifying phrase “of the dead” which makes a difference. If it were just “ghosts”, it would be exactly parallel to “angels”. That is, the unmarked version would be “talks to ghosts” and “talks to the ghosts” would imply specific ghosts. And if you added a qualifying phrase to “angels”, then it would change how I felt about it with and without the article.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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