Friday, February 29, 2008

If I Have The Chance

One of my students said, "Ma'am, if I have a chance to go abroad, I want to go to the States to earn money for my family." I appreciate the sentiment but I've got to correct the grammar.

If you want to talk about one chance to do anything, say, "if I have the chance." In a previous post, I explained the difference between the and a. We use a when we're talking about one thing among many. For example, "Let's go to a restaurant in Greenhills tonight." In this case, the speaker is talking about any one restaurant in Greenhills, a place with many restaurants. The, on the other hand, is used when we're talking about one particular thing "Let's go to the restaurant beside the bookstore in Greenhills." Here, the speaker is talking about one restaurant beside the bookstore. If you noticed, the first example talks about a non-specific restaurant. In the second, the restaurant is specified.

Where chances are concerned, we say "the chance" because we're talking about one particular chance to do something--"if I have the chance to go abroad." Granted, people might have more than one chance to do something--"this is a chance to find love"-- but if you're talking about the one chance, use the.

I hope this wasn't confusing?

1 comment:

Qing said...

Very clear explanation.