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Definite or indefinite article for non-singletons?


On 28Jul2019 20:11, Richard Damon <Richard at Damon-Family.org> wrote:
>On 7/28/19 11:13 AM, MRAB wrote:
>> On 2019-07-28 13:30, Cameron Simpson wrote:
>>> The collection is "the things". "all" qualifies it, versus, say, 
>>> "some of the things" or "the first of the things" etc.
>>>
>> [snip]
>> It's strange that "all the things" (meaning "all of the things") is
>> OK, but otherwise it's "one of the things", "some of the things", etc.
>>
>> That's English for you!

Well, we also say "one thing", synonymous with "a thing" and "some 
things". Also "some thing" synonymous with "a thing" and "something" 
meaning an arbitrary context dependent thing, but not necessarily one of 
the "thing"s we might otherwise have been talking about.

On reflection, "the things" is a definite group, and "some of the 
things" or "one of the things" is a subset/member of that group. Whereas 
"something" or "some things" is usually vaguer, where you don't have a 
defined group of things but your are talking about things in a context.

>My thoughts is that "of" implies membership in some category, some part,
>but the phrase "all the things", we aren't looking at any category, but
>literally ALL the things. "All of the things" implies all of the things
>within some group, possibly implied by context. The category "thing" is
>implied by the word thing, so doesn't call for the preposition. Saying
>"All of the things" to mean every single one of them implies creating
>some category that just happens to include every one of them.

I think I'm saying what you're saying here.

Cheers,
Cameron Simpson <cs at cskk.id.au>