Here it is in context:

When people appeared in Australia, many species died off. This is true of Europe. Think woolly mammoth.

What does it mean and why there is no article before "wolly mammoth"?


Interesting question. It is an idiom used by article-writers. I think of it as having implied quotation marks, so it really means

Think "woolly mammoth".


Think of the concept "woolly mammoth".

But this is not a very convincing argument.

I think you just have to accept this idiom "Think [name of a concept>]".

  • Exactly, no doubt about it. – Lambie Dec 5 '17 at 0:49

"Think woolly mammoth" is not quite grammatically correct, but it's a conversational and emphatic gambit Americans sometimes use. It is, however, basically shorthand for "think of woolly mammoths as an example of the premise."

  • 2
    Being an imperative has nothing to do with whether there is an article (or, for that matter, a preposition). "Think about a woolly mammoth" is an imperative. So is "Consider a woolly mammoth", but "consider woolly mammoth" does not make sense. – Colin Fine Dec 4 '17 at 22:59
  • The OP didn't ask about the missing preposition, but it was my bad to think article. I thought the OP was asking about the missing pronoun, for some reason. I will change my answer. – joiedevivre Dec 4 '17 at 23:02
  • It is grammatically correct. In English, to draw someone's attention to something in writing we say: Think [x]. This is used as an example of some preceding idea. – Lambie Dec 5 '17 at 0:49
  • If you are talking about descriptive grammar, then yes, it's grammatically correct, because as both of us mentioned, it is something that people say and people understand. It's a correct idiom. But the OP may have been confused because the idiom doesn't follow the rules of prescriptive grammar, so I was simple confirming that that was true. The rest of your comment basically repeats what I said in my answer. – joiedevivre Dec 5 '17 at 17:42
  • But it is grammatically correct, in fact. It's merely an imperative of the verb think.... – Lambie Dec 5 '17 at 18:25

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