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Jigneshbharati
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 1:40:35 PM
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There are many ways you can experience higher education. Around a third of undergraduates are mature students – of all ages and backgrounds.
Please explain the use of indefinite article "a" before " third of undergraduates..."
money143
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 3:21:09 PM

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Location: Iquique, Tarapaca, Chile
one third or a third is okay
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 3:25:19 PM
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Joined: 11/3/2016
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Thanks but I want to know the use of "a" here
FounDit
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 4:47:56 PM

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Jigneshbharati wrote:
There are many ways you can experience higher education. Around a third of undergraduates are mature students – of all ages and backgrounds.
Please explain the use of indefinite article "a" before " third of undergraduates..."


I'm not sure what is confusing you. TFD says:


a 2 (ə; ā when stressed)
indef.art.
1. Used before nouns and noun phrases that denote a single but unspecified person or thing: a region; a person.
2. Used before terms that denote number, amount, quantity, or degree: only a few of the voters; a bit more rest; a little excited.
3.
a. Used before a proper name to denote a type or a member of a class: the wisdom of a Socrates.
b. Used before a mass noun to indicate a single type or example: a dry wine.

In this case: a third of undergraduates
[Emphasis Fd]
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 12:45:20 AM
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Joined: 11/3/2016
Posts: 4,141
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Which definition from the above fit here? No 2?
Audiendus
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 10:45:42 AM
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Jigneshbharati wrote:
Which definition from the above fit here? No 2?


Yes. "A third" means "one third". "Around third of undergraduates" would make no sense.
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 12:37:14 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 16,359
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Jigneshbharati wrote:
Which definition from the above fit here? No 2?


3b. A third is a mass noun describing a group. I made it bold to indicate that.

(3)
b. Used before a mass noun to indicate a single type or example: a dry wine.

In this case: a third of undergraduates
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 1:46:36 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/3/2016
Posts: 4,141
Neurons: 21,668
Sorry! Thank you
Audiendus
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 9:36:16 PM
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FounDit wrote:
Jigneshbharati wrote:
Which definition from the above fit here? No 2?

3b. A third is a mass noun describing a group. I made it bold to indicate that.

(3)
b. Used before a mass noun to indicate a single type or example: a dry wine.

In this case: a third of undergraduates

I disagree that "third" is a mass (i.e. uncountable) noun like "wine". "Third" is a countable noun: one third, two thirds.

3b refers to nouns that are normally uncountable but can be used with the indefinite article when qualified by an adjective or adjectival phrase. E.g. we can say either "This is dry wine" or "This is a dry wine"; the latter signifies a type of wine. Similarly, we can say "She had a beauty that I cannot describe".

So I don't think 3b fits for "third".
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2018 1:15:46 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 16,359
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Audiendus wrote:
FounDit wrote:
Jigneshbharati wrote:
Which definition from the above fit here? No 2?

3b. A third is a mass noun describing a group. I made it bold to indicate that.

(3)
b. Used before a mass noun to indicate a single type or example: a dry wine.

In this case: a third of undergraduates

I disagree that "third" is a mass (i.e. uncountable) noun like "wine". "Third" is a countable noun: one third, two thirds.

3b refers to nouns that are normally uncountable but can be used with the indefinite article when qualified by an adjective or adjectival phrase. E.g. we can say either "This is dry wine" or "This is a dry wine"; the latter signifies a type of wine. Similarly, we can say "She had a beauty that I cannot describe".

So I don't think 3b fits for "third".


Saying "She is a beauty", or "She has a beauty I cannot describe" seems to me to be using "a" before a mass noun when used as an example, which the definition permits.

Saying that a third of the undergraduates are mature students appears to do the same thing, IMO.
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