For example:

After many years of struggling, I can finally see a horizon in distance.


After many years of struggling, I can finally see a horizon in the distance.

I'm having trouble to determine when to use the article "the" and when it's ok to drop it...

At the time of posting this question, it didn't occur to me there is a third option:

"...I can finally see a horizon in a distance."

So would indefinite article be possibly the best option here - because the exact distance is not known? Someone in my proximity strongly opposes the use of definite article in this case, precisely for the reason that exact distance is not known (defined).

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    I wouldn't use "in distance" that way. "in the distance" or possibly "in view". Can you find an actual usage of "in distance" as you are using it? – user3169 Apr 22 '17 at 18:47
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    Generally, in everyday English, when talking about how far something is, people often use an expression such as how far or a long/short way rather than the noun distance. E.G. WE DO NOT SAY The cottage is some distance from the road. BUT WE SHOULD SAY → The cottage is a long way from the road. – AmirhoseinRiazi Sep 1 '18 at 19:01
  • Well, then user3169 - if you woldn't use "in the distance" - how would you then say "i can see (it\something\horizon) in view, but still far away"? In my language, we just say "in the distance". What's the alternative for that? In view doesn't express clearly if it's far or close. Though, horizon itself suggests it's not close, now that I think about it... Perhaps it's redundant, when used with horizon. But if you see "a tree or a car in the distance", then there's nothing wrong with that, right? An it would be "in the distance", right? – Dodo Phe Jan 16 at 20:23

I speak Australian English and it would seem to me that the term in the distance, refers to a sentence like:

In the distance, I saw elephants.

You would not say:

In distance, I saw elephants.

But you sure have me thinking on this one, I might even have to facebook status it to see what my friends think. :) Great question.


You can certainly use both "in distance", and "in the distance". [Note: optional words are in parentheses.] "(Measured) in distance (kilometres), it (the trip/the drive) is short, but in time, it's not." (In other words, the road is in very poor condition, so we'll have to drive very slowly, even though our destination is not far away.) "I can see mountains in the distance."

Important: That said, the most common way of expressing the thought in your original sentence is: "After many years of struggling, I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel." The horizon, by definition, is a long way off, meaning that there is still a struggle to get there!

  • Thanks - but that was exactly what I wanted to say with the sentence: the struggle is not over yet, but at least I can see a horizon now, so it's a bit easier. The dilemma was only about the particle, because I get confused and clumsy with that. So, about my sentence - is is better to use the definite article then? – Dodo Phe May 13 '17 at 18:35
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    a horizon in distance is not idiomatic at all. A horizon in the distance. – Lambie Oct 23 '17 at 18:19

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