Someone posts a picture of a drink with the caption: "I got the tapioca drink so I'm relaxing now." Is that considered correct grammar?

I thought it was fine, with "the" maybe implying a choice of flavours or something, but a couple of others disagreed and said it should DEFINITELY be "I got A tapioca drink"

They were US English and I'm UK English, so I wondered if it's maybe differing language nuances. Or I'm just completely wrong.

Either outcome is fine for me, I'm just curious. Any thoughts?

  • 1
    It's fine in the US. "A tapioca drink" would imply one of several tapioca drinks on the menu, rather than the only one.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 5, 2019 at 21:38
  • 'the' could imply the house specialty
    – lbf
    Apr 5, 2019 at 21:44
  • What do you mean "you're UK English"? Are you a native speaker of English who grew up somewhere in the United Kingdom? If so, then why are you asking this question? Are you looking for some theoretical grammatical model that explains these nuances?
    – tchrist
    Apr 5, 2019 at 21:59
  • Related.
    – Robusto
    Apr 5, 2019 at 22:07
  • I think he meant British English... Does 'the definite article' apply here? Apr 5, 2019 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


It would be usual, in British as well as American English, to use the indefinite article, a, in this situation. There is an exception, however. If you had been previously talking - to the same audience - about your plan to get yourself a tapioca drink, you could use the definite article, the, because you are referring to the specific (if theoretical) drink you had been talking about earlier. You could also use the relative pronoun that, with the antecedent being the earlier-mentioned (theoretical) tapioca drink.

The definite article would also be appropriate if you were at some specific outlet, or the audience knew you had been to a specific outlet, and they only had one sort of tapioca drink.


You would use the word "a". So you would say "I got a tapioca drink so I'm relaxing right now". This is because the word "a" implies that there are many tapioca drinks, or many kinds. When you use "the", that implies that there is only one. Example for "the": "I am the president of the United States" This is because there is only 1 president of the United States at a time. However, there are many tapiocas.

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