3

Example:

I couldn't find any information about lemmings. Seemed like it wasn't a very popular topic. The closest (thing) I could find was a news article about them.

  • Your specific word thing is simply an alternative to [optionally] repeating the previously-specified noun information [about lemmings]. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 11 '15 at 19:35
3

Closest there can stand on its own as a substantive. Thing is not needed. Both versions are idiomatic.

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  • 1
    "substantive"? You mean our own "nominal"? I thought substantive was old-fashioned English. – M.A.R. Jan 11 '15 at 17:00
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    The new grammarians are very protective of their jargon :-) – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 11 '15 at 17:13
1

From my point of view, "thing" isn't necessary. Because of the context, it should be obvious what you're talking about.

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1

The closest stands for the closest information.

Instead of repeating the word, information, we use the superlatives as pronouns in place of the closest information.

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