English Indefinite Ordinals: A First Explanation
English ordinals are commonly preceded by the definite article but the pattern is not universal. There are quite a few well attested instances of English ordinals preceded by the indefinite article, which, strangely enough, have not been discussed in published research so far. The paper thus breaks new ground by documenting the pattern and offering an explanation of indefinite ordinal usages. In doing so, the paper draws on data culled from the Corpus of Contemporary American English and, in the absence of publications specifically focused on indefinite English ordinals, relies on broader accounts of the indefinite article. The paper shows that indefinite ordinal usages are well rooted in the meaning of the indefinite article and serve to express the speaker’s viewpoint.