0

I came across this on the Internet:

Thing is, it doesn't take long for the romantic version of frugality I'd imagined for myself to dissipate.

Why is there no article before "thing"?

Shouldn't it be:

The thing is...?

Or is this usage OK in oral conversations or informal writing? And if you will, could you please explain in what situations one may omit the article even when grammar requires it? I know news headings do not usually carry articles. Thank you so much.

2

In casual usage, the definite article is often omitted at the beginning of a statement, sentence or utterance. It should only be done where there's no ambiguity created by the omission. It's also usually used to contrast a previous statement, from the same speaker or not.

Also, all the cases I can immediately think of where I would expect to see are for things of the form "The <noun> is..."

Trouble with you is that you're always thinking of the downside
Upside is that we get free drinks
Nice thing about Newcastle is how friendly everyone is

All of those are things I wouldn't blink at, though by and large the negative cases, or ones expressing caveat, are much more common in my experience. So that's things like:

Thing is I can't just jump in the car. Problem is we can be sure she'll turn up.

However, in all of these cases, Standard English requires the in front of it, and you should avoid it in anything formal. Only exception would be (see what I did there) if you were trying to create a light, conversational tone in your writing/speaking - which is sometimes desirable.

Familiarity and experience are the best way to judge when and how to use things like this.

  • Thank you for your thorough answer. Another question, do people do this(omitting articles) in job summary as well?, such as in this example: (no article) Dynamic and motivated professional with a proven record of..." – Tom Lee Feb 27 at 14:03
  • 1
    That would be omitting "a" rather than "the", but yes - even more commonly. I think that comes from the fact that such language developed for use in print advertising that was charged by the word, but I have no evidence for that. – SamBC Feb 27 at 14:04
1

Your observation is correct, it should be "The thing is..."

But sometimes, for various reasons, people omit the article in these kinds of situation. It is not informal, colloquial, or anything. It is just wrong, but still, accepted. Same thing probably happens in most languages and with all speakers. (See what I did here? :) I did not use "The same...")

My advice is, until you start to "feel" what is correct and what is not, you should stick to using what you already know is correct - in that way, you cannot be wrong :)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.