Tell me please why the speaker left out an article after the phrase speaking of in the following sentence. It is from Crash Course Big Hisory. It is at 2 minute and 32 second.

Some questions can only be explored by zooming out. That is what Big History does. Speaking of (the) zoomed out, this is Earthrise one of the most famous photographs of all time.

Why did the speake not use the before zoomed out or not say speaking of zooming out?

  • zoomed out is an adjectival nominal here. Speaking of fast, did you see the latest article on NASA's supersonic plane initiative?
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


"Zoomed out" is an adjective phrase. "Of X" is a prepositional phrase. Normally X there should be a noun, not an adjective. So the sentence is not really grammatically correct to begin with. The meaning is clear enough, so I'd say it's informal rather than wrong. But a grammatically correct sentence would be, "Speaking of things that are zoomed out, this is Earthrise, one of the most famous photographs of all time."

There's no call for "the" here because articles are used to modify nouns, not adjectives, and there is no noun in the phrase.

English speakers often do say "speaking of X" where X is an adjective. Like "Speaking of annoying, yesterday my wife said ..." Or "Speaking of expensive, have you seen what new cars cost today?" Etc. In most if not all cases, what the person means is, "Speaking of things that are X".

  • I think your answer is fine. You describe the various ways one can use speaking of: followed by a noun, gerund, adjective, and past participle.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 21:08
  • @Rompey Sorry if my answer isn't clear. If you tell me what part isn't clear, perhaps I can improve it.
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 21:14

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