the price of a (the, zero article) traditional higher education

A quote from The Economist (Higher education: The attack of the MOOCs): He thinks this will drive a dramatic reduction in the price of a traditional higher education, that will reduce the total revenues of existing providers by far more than the revenue gained by the start-ups. Here, as I understand, the indefinite article helps … Read more

rules written by (the) existing players: article usage

A quote from The Economist (Higher education: The attack of the MOOCs): “Anyone who thinks the rules of engagement have already been written by the existing players is massively underestimating the potential of the technology,” he says. May the definite article be omitted before “existing players”, or is the word “existing” a modifier that makes … Read more

Advertising propelled (the) radio

A quote from The Economist (Higher education: The attack of the MOOCs): “Ads propelled radio and TV, why not education? There is a lot of misplaced snobbery in education about advertising,” says Mike Feerick, Alison’s founder. Can the (a?) definite article be used here before “radio”? I’ve read that nouns denoting institutions of human society … Read more

Which is the head in “a number of boys”?

[A number of boys] were absent. (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, p56) This book says that number is the head of the subject NP, but Angela Downing calls it a “determinative” (that is, a “complex quantifier”, English Grammar p.433). When I read the sentence, Downing’s term seems more natural. Then what’s the possible … Read more

Should the noun be in singular or plural form after “some”?

I usually use the plural form after “some.” Example: I bought some books about France But I would also say some source states that France is best toured in fall. Is there a specific grammar rule? May I say that in the second sentence I am really thinking at a very specific source, so singular … Read more

“the wife” instead of “my wife”, are there any other contexts where a possessive pronoun gets replaced by a definite article?

In English, one occasionally sees a replacement of my wife by the wife, such as in this sentence: there was a sudden thud and I joked to the wife that someone had run into us Does this construction occur for any other words than wife? The husband? The mother? Of course in many contexts it … Read more

When to use “some” instead of “a”

You were just having some dream. and You were just having a dream. Are both correct? What is the difference, if any? Answer Yes, both are correct. In your first example some is being used in an informal way. There are two plausible interpretations for some. The first possibility is that some means the dream … Read more