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in the distance, in the end, at a distance, at an end Options
onsen
Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2018 7:04:53 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/14/2017
Posts: 257
Neurons: 4,961
Hello,

Common phrases:
1. in the distance
2. in the end

3. at a distance
4. at an end

The definite article is used in 1 and 2 with the preposition 'in'.
The indefinite article is used in 3 and 4 with the preposition 'at'.

Is this phenomenon merely by coincidence?
Is there any inevitability for the phrases to be as they are?

Thank you
Gabriel82
Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2018 10:15:43 PM

Rank: Member

Joined: 7/22/2017
Posts: 97
Neurons: 251,584
Location: Wichita Falls, Texas, United States
onsen wrote:
Hello,

Common phrases:
1. in the distance--"in" satisfies the purpose of "place" (distance)
2. in the end--in refers to time here (the "end"....of time)

3. at a distance--at points to the distance and hence speaks of a "place."
4. at an end--"at" points to "time."

The definite article is used in 1 and 2 with the preposition 'in'.
The indefinite article is used in 3 and 4 with the preposition 'at'.

Is this phenomenon merely by coincidence?
Is there any inevitability for the phrases to be as they are?

Thank you


Remember that prepositions can be used in more than one way, so you have to allow the context of the phrase or sentence to dictate the proper meaning. See brief explanations above.

Both in and at can be used for both "time" and "place" purposes, so keep this in mind. Refer to the explanations here to help you.

onsen
Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2018 11:13:34 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/14/2017
Posts: 257
Neurons: 4,961
Gabriel82 wrote:

onsen wrote:
Hello,

Common phrases:
1. in the distance--"in" satisfies the purpose of "place" (distance)
2. in the end--in refers to time here (the "end"....of time)

3. at a distance--at points to the distance and hence speaks of a "place."
4. at an end--"at" points to "time."

The definite article is used in 1 and 2 with the preposition 'in'.
The indefinite article is used in 3 and 4 with the preposition 'at'.

Is this phenomenon merely by coincidence?
Is there any inevitability for the phrases to be as they are?

Thank you


Remember that prepositions can be used in more than one way, so you have to allow the context of the phrase or sentence to dictate the proper meaning. See brief explanations above.

Both in and at can be used for both "time" and "place" purposes, so keep this in mind. Refer to the explanations here to help you.


Thank you very much, Gabriel82.

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives the following data.
A. in a distance ..... no cases
B. in an end ..... no cases
C. at the distance ..... no cases
D. at the end ..... over one hundred cases

What I mean is:
I tried to point out that certain words with certain prepositions in certain phrases take either the definite article or the indefinite article, not both.
I found now that 4. at an end is an error in this aim.
The remaining 3 phrases (= 1, 2, 3) don’t take the otherwise articles, respectively, which was made clear.
My question can be changed to:
why A, B, C give no cases.

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