Would you tell me if I need to use a or the before harsh truth in the sentence below.

When you are trying to lose weight, you have to make sacrifices, such as cutting down on or cutting out completely highly processed food. That's just a/the harsh truth.

I've noticed that truth is usually used with the, but I've always come across instances where it's been used with a. Are both possible in the context I provided, if so is there a nuance of difference between a and the there?

  • Both are commonly used: Ngram
    – gotube
    Jul 21, 2022 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


Both can be used, and both are grammatically valid. The indefinite article "a" would be more likely to be used when the speaker sees the "truth" being expressed as one of several truths. When the speaker is focused on a single "harsh truth", s/he is more likely to use "the". The difference is a matter of emphasis.


It's a harsh truth that one doesn't always get what one wants.

When one thing after another goes wrong on the same day, a person often reacts badly, and that's the harsh truth.

  • 1
    @Prem Thanks for the heads up. Jul 21, 2022 at 18:08

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