I just came across the following sentence;

Many Americans love to watch reruns of the I Love Lucy show.

and think that the in there is extraneous. What rule applies to it?

1 Answer 1


It's definitely not extraneous. In fact, I'd say it was required.

Interestingly enough, if we remove the word show, then we would omit the article, too:

Many Americans love to watch reruns of I Love Lucy.

but we could not say:

Many Americans love to watch reruns of show. (INCORRECT)

unless the word was pluralized:

Many Americans love to watch reruns of shows.

The EF website lists 15 reasons when we use a definite article, but I'm having trouble figuring out which of those rules applies to this sentence. However, the CUNY School of Law has a webpage about the definite article with a rule that seems to apply:

In general, the article THE is used when a noun has a specific reference to something unique.

In this case, the noun is show, and it's referring to a particular (i.e. a unique) show.

On the EF website, that rule is expressed as:

Use the in sentences or clauses where you define or identify a particular person or object.

I think those are essentially two ways of trying to say the same thing, but the wording of the former maps a little better to the sentence in this question. An example on the law school website is:

  • the 2001 CUNY budget

which aligns pretty closely with:

  • the I Love Lucy show

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