Is the use of indefinite article in this sentence wrong as my teacher said?

5

My sentence is:

Opened in 1982, the Rio Sul Center is a 164 meters high building.

But my teacher said the sentence should be:

Opened in 1982, the Rio Sul Center is 164 meters high building.

(basically, removing the article a). I still think that mine is correct, and hers is wrong.

Which one is correct, and why?

PS: English isn't my first language, that's why I'm asking this basic question.

Juan

Posted 2016-02-29T17:56:12.443

Reputation:

1I think probably English isn't your teacher's first language either. She's completely wrong - so far as I'm aware there's no dialectal variant where simply removing the article (The Rio Sul Center is 164 meters high building) results in an acceptable utterance. You'd have to remove the word *building* as well. This is very basic grammar, but I won't closevote for lack of prior research in case someone can explain why your teacher made such a ridiculous error (so it might be useful if you tell us what her native language is). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-02-29T18:02:35.850

1In short, your variant with "a" is correct. But I wouldn't tell your teacher that her variant is not correct. – rogermue – 2016-02-29T18:10:14.307

Well, I can't really tell where she's from. I'm using EF English Live, so she may be from any country that have English as the first language. It was a writing exam where the system automatically assigns your text correction to a given teacher. Maybe, she didn't see the building in the end? – None – 2016-02-29T18:11:25.123

1

@Juan: Well, their website says you'll be learning with the support of expert English teachers, so assuming you can still contact that specific teacher, I suggest you give her a chance to reconsider (perhaps you're right, and she simply didn't register the word building). If she still maintains that she's right, ask the company to sack her (perhaps they'll give you some free lessons by way of compensation! :)

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-02-29T18:19:28.603

The premodification required is a 164-metre-high. – Edwin Ashworth – 2016-02-29T19:27:05.480

Answers

2

You get the answer by looking at the core of your sentence, removing all the qualifiers and subordinate clauses:

The Center is a building.

Notice that this would not work at all without the article a.

Now as we add the supporting information back in, we see that we need to keep the article a at each stage:

The Rio Sul Center is a building.

Opened in 1982, the Rio Sul Center is a building.

Opened in 1982, the Rio Sul Center is a 164-meters high building.

However, with that all said, your structuring of this sentence is still somewhat awkward, and difficult for a reader to parse, which is perhaps the root of your teacher's issue. I might suggest one of the following alternatives.

Opened in 1982, the Rio Sul Center is a building that is 164 meters high.

The Rio Sul Center opened in 1982 and is 164 meters high.

cobaltduck

Posted 2016-02-29T17:56:12.443

Reputation: 668

Thanks, indeed, I think she was confused by the sentence, even thought it's correct. – None – 2016-02-29T18:13:10.383

3@Juan: There really isn't anything "confusing" about your example from any native speaker's perspective - unless we consider the possibility of the word building not being noticed because it's on a separate line of text. That's how it appears to me on my screen, which could lead to "misparsing" simply because we don't expect anything after the word *high* (except perhaps a full stop, but you obviously wouldn't be looking for that on the next line, so if doesn't immediately follow high, you might simply assume it's been missed out). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-02-29T18:24:40.057

No hyphen in the measure phrase following the copula. – Edwin Ashworth – 2016-02-29T19:28:32.990

2Hi, cobaltduck. Opened in 1982, the Rio Sul Center is a 164-meter high building. – None – 2016-03-01T02:56:25.647