one/it

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one/it

Post by navi » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:56 am

1) They want a computer and I am going to give them one.
2) They want a computer and I am going to give it to them.

Does '2' necessarily imply that they want a specific computer and that is the one I am going to give them?

Could '2' be used instead of '1'? Could it be used if they don't want a specific computer?

Gratefully,
Navi.
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Re: one/it

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:31 pm

Because you used the term "a computer" rather than "the computer", neither of your query sentences specifies a particular computer. The sentences are thus interchangeable in terms of their meaning.

Note that you cannot modify 1) with "the computer" without significantly changing the meaning:

"They want the computer and I am going to give them one" would suggest that they want a particular computer, but the one I will give them may or may not be the one they want.
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Re: one/it

Post by navi » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:43 am

Thank you very much, Erik,

I see what you mean. My question was not well-formulated.

1a) They want an album by the Beatles and I am going to give them one.
2a) They want an album by the Beatles and I am going to give it to them.

I'd say in '1a' it is more or less clear that they just want an album by the Beatles and don't care which one they get.
It is possible that they have asked for a specific album, and not having that one, I've decided to give them another one. But the chances of that are slim. In that case, one would probably say:... I am going to give them one, but not the one they asked for.

In '2a' however, it is more likely that they have asked for a specific album and I am going to give that album to them. Is it possible that they have not asked for a specific album?

Gratefully,
Navi.
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Re: one/it

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:25 pm

Your question about 2a) cannot be answered without some context pertaining to the query sentence. They may or may not have nominated the album they want: it is impossible to tell from the sentence alone. We would need some related textual or conversational clues to be sure.

If they have specified which album it is, your query sentence could in turn be focused more precisely:

"They want a particular album by the Beatles, and I am going to give it to them."
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Re: one/it

Post by navi » Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:50 am

Thank you very much, Erik,

I sort of thought that the fact that 'it' was used instead of 'one' sort of made it clear that they had asked for a specific album.

If one uses 'one' then it is clear that a specific album is not asked for... unless they have asked for a specific album and I have decided to give them another one, and am expressing my meaning jocularly.

But it seems that 'b1' is ambiguous.

Respectfully,
Navi.
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End of topic.
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