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Articles with common nouns

Class nouns are used with the indefinite article:

1. when the speaker presents the object expressed by the noun as belonging to a certain class. In this case the indefinite article has the meaning of “какой-нибудь, какой-то, один”

In the plural no article is used in this case. If the idea of number is implied the noun is preceded by the pronoun some.

2. With a predicative noun, when the speaker states that the object denoted by the noun belongs to a certain class.

Ex.: Miss Brown’s father was an artist.

In the plural neither the article nor the pronoun some is used.

3. When the noun is used in a general sense. The article has the meaning “every”

Ex.: A drowning man catches at a straw.

4. There are cases when the indefinite article preserves its old original meaning of ‘one’

Ex.: He had hardly spoken a word since they left Riccardo’s door…

This meaning is generally found with:

(a) Nouns denoting time, measure and weight.

Ex.: A week or two past.

(b) The numerals hundred, thousand, million and the nouns dozen, score.

With nouns in the plural some is used.

The use of the definite article with class nouns.

Class nouns are used with the definite article:

1. When the noun denotes an objects of a given class.

An object is singled out in the following cases:

(a) When the speaker and the hearer know what particular object is meant. No special indication is necessary.

Ex.: How did you like the play ?

(b) When the speaker uses an attribute pointing out a particular object.

Ex.: this is the house that Jack built.

(c) When the situation itself makes the object definite.

Ex.: The wedding looked dismal. The bride was too old and thebride-groom was too young.

2. When the noun denotes a thing unique (the sun, the moon, the universe) or a class.

Ex.: The sun was getting warmer.

The indefinite article can be used when we mean a certain aspect in which the sun, moon and sky appear to us, a certain state of the sun, the moon, the sky. In this case the attributive is used.

Ex.: A pearl-white moon smiles through the green trees.

3. With noun used in a generic sense.

Ex. The tiger has always had the reputation of being a man-eater.

Unreal actions in the nominal clauses

In Modern English the choice of the subjunctive mood form is determined by the structure of the sentence or clause even more than by the attitude of the speaker or writer to what is said or written. There exist strict rules of the use of the forms in different patterns of sentences and clauses.

The subjunctive mood in subject clauses

1. The use of the subjunctive mood forms in subject clauses in complex sentences of the type It is necessary that you should come.

Subject clauses follow the principal clause, which is either formal or has no subject (exclamatory). The predicate of the principal clause expresses some kind of modality, estimate, or some motive for performing the action denoted by the predicate in the subordinate clause. This close connection between the two predicates accounts for the nature of the subordinate clause, which completes, or rather gives meaning to general situation described in the principal clause.

Should + infinitive or present subjunctive is generally used in this pattern in the subject clause.

It is (was) necessary It is (was) important It is (was) only right It is (was) curious It is (was) funny It is (was) good (better, best) It is (was) cruel It is (was) shameful It is (was) a happy coincidence It is (was) considered strange It is (was) recomended It becomes (became) a custom It seems (seemed) to me prophetic How wonderful What a shame How strange etc.   that he should say so. (that he say so).

It is sad that you should have heard of it on the day of your wedding.

It is a happy coincidence that we should meet here.

In American English the present subjunctive is predominant in this sentence pattern:

It is sad that you be here.

In exclamatory complex sentences:

How wonderful that she should have such a feeling for you!

What a scandal that Palmer and Antonia should go to the opera together!

If the principal clause expresses possibility (it is probable, possible, likely) may (might) + non-perfect infinitive is used, because the action is referred to the future (Возможно, что...; похоже, что...; видимо...)

It is likely the weather may change.

It is possible the key may be lost.

In negative and interrogative sentences, however, should + infinitive is used:

It is not possible that he should have guessed it. Is it possible that he should refuse to come? Невероятно, чтобы... Возможно ли, чтобы...

Note:If in sentences introduced by it the reference is made to an existing fact or state of things, the indicative mood may be used in the subordinate clause.

It is strange that he behaves like that.

Is it possible that he has taken the key?

2. After the principal clause expressing time - it is time, it is high time -the past subjunctive or non-factual forms are used.

It is time you went to bed.

It is high time he were more serious.

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