The Grammarphobia Blog

APB: Whither “the”?

Q: I wonder if you have anything to say about the disappearance of the definite article before phrases like “point is” “trouble is,” “thing is,” and so on. Coming upon this usage in even The New Yorker has led me to send out this APB. Whither “the” and why?

A: In this case, dropping “the” is just a clipped mannerism.

Why is it done? The answer is that fashions in speech come and go, and this one is probably another manifestation of our fast-forward, New-York-minute culture!

It’s like saying “HTH” instead of “hope this helps.” Or, for that matter, “APB” instead of “all points bulletin.”

Buy Pat’s books at a local store or Amazon.com.