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  1. In a hurry.
  2. In the hurry.

A) Would you ever say #2?

B) Why would you want to add "a" in front of "hurry"? If you say "I'm in hurry", what would make you feel that it is wrong? You use the word "help" with no article and that seems odd to me if you think about the logic which applies to "hurry".

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    I cannot ever think of a reason to say "In the hurry" nor "in hurry". The phrase is "in a hurry". You can also say "in a big hurry", but you still need the 'a'. – Michael Dorgan Jun 16 '15 at 23:18
  • @MichaelDorgan Thanks. What reasons prevent you from saying the other two? – Joe Kim Jun 16 '15 at 23:23
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    I'm sorry, but I have to give you the "They just sound wong" answer. I am guessing this is an idiomatic phrase here, which is the reason for the strange rules. I'll let someone with more exact grammar knowledge give a more in-depth answer. – Michael Dorgan Jun 16 '15 at 23:25
  • We don't say 'I'm in help' – user6951 Jun 17 '15 at 17:13
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It appears that "in the hurry" was more popular in the late 19th century. See http://corpus.byu.edu/coha/?c=coha&q=40052682. Also, see the following Google Ngram:

enter image description here (Google Ngram in the hurry, in a hurry)

So most usage will be like "I'm in a hurry". Do note that's informal and conversational.

The rest of this post will focus on "in the hurry" because I think it's getting a bad rap. First consider this:

  1. In my hurry to evacuate, I forgot my wallet. [Ok.]
  2. In a hurry to evacuate, I forgot my wallet. [This doesn't sound right to me.]
  3. In the hurry to evacuate, I forgot my wallet. [This sounds better to me, but I think it's a bit unbalanced.]
  4. In the hurry to evacuate, two people got hurt. [Ok.]

#1 is specific to the individual's effort. #2 doesn't sound right to me but it might be ok. #3 may suggest a general hurry of people, perhaps some sirens and confusion; my problem with it is a matter of style: it's unbalanced between the abstract hurrying and the specific person. #4 sounds good and has balance since it's talking about the hurry in general along with a related general fact.

Now consider this:

  • In the hurry of modern life, it's difficult to make time for what really matters.

While ok, this example above may sound a little forced. I think because the word "hurry" is doing all the work of explaining itself. But I think it's grammatically ok. Compare to the following quote, which sounds perfectly fine to my AmEng ears:

My quick review (google ngram, COCHA) suggests that in written form, contemporary usage of "in the hurry" is mostly found in fiction. That's a good clue that it's informal, conversational, or nonstandard English. And there seems to be a few people (google search, social media, comments) who will simply say "I'm in the hurry" or "I'm in the hurry to...". So "in the hurry" is now mostly informal/conversational as part of a non-standard dialect of English.

But I do think it has a proper place in spoken usage. Consider the following:

  • Captain Birk knew that as soon as the sun set on this planet, the Dwelvers would be coming out and combing the desert for anything alive. That magnificent red giant was inching it's way to the horizon. He reached his hand out. Five fingers to go.

    Tanner saw the captain and knew what he was thinking. As he lifted one of the pods and threw it into the back of the truck, he shouted to the rest of the squad, "Ok men! Let's get this wrapped up! I'm in the hurry to get this over with and get back to the ship!"

To me, "in the hurry" works better than "in a hurry" in the above passage. "I'm in a hurry" sounds more urgent and immediate than "I'm in the hurry".

I think we're all suffering a bit of "it does/doesn't sound right to me" syndrome, which is probably overriding some fundamental grammatical correctness issues. Someone more academic may shed some more light on this, perhaps in another answer or a comment.

That's all for now. I'm in the hurry to get to bed. :)

  • I totally don't get your explanation about "the". Is it in the same usage of the or something else? – Joe Kim Jun 17 '15 at 2:08
  • I don't understand what it is you don't understand. But I've updated my answer a bit so maybe that'll help. – CoolHandLouis Jun 17 '15 at 2:45
  • Per my answer, I think all the valid examples you gave of "in the hurry" are cases where there's a single specific hurry being referred to, while the original question doesn't fit that very well. Fair amount of useful stuff here, though. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 17 '15 at 7:29
  • @CoolHandLouis Thank you for All your hard work. It just makes you smile whether it pays off or not. – Joe Kim Jun 17 '15 at 15:54
  • Sure thing! I've reworked it again you might want to re-read. – CoolHandLouis Jun 17 '15 at 17:00
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You don't say "I'm in help"*, and neither should you say "I'm in hurry". In this case, "hurry" is actually a noun and is not being used as a verb at all. Since it's an abstract noun describing your non-specific state of hurrying, you use the indefinite article, "in a hurry". "In the hurry" would only work if there was exactly one conceivable state of hurrying, but there isn't; there's a whole set of different possibilities for different reasons and to different extents.

*I'm in a help doesn't really work either, because help is not used as an abstract noun for something that can describe a person's state.

  • I am in want or I am in a want or the want? I am in rush or I am in the rush? I am in charge or I am in a charge? Do you think I should start 2..3...5 new questions? I can do it, why not? – user18856 Jun 17 '15 at 7:23
  • @AmD: Have you looked up dictionary entries for "want", "rush", and "charge" to see if they have noun forms? If that doesn't answer your questions, I'll try to elaborate later. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 17 '15 at 7:30
  • "I am in want." (a bit archaic, means generally needy; destitute—more likely one would say "I am in need of [X].") " "I am in a rush." "I am in charge." – Brian Hitchcock Jun 17 '15 at 8:06
  • @Nathan Tuggy I've looked up these words in a dictionary, but I don't understand why they are used that way!! Could you please elaborate your question. I am going to open a new question. – user18856 Jun 17 '15 at 9:24
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    @CoolHandLouis: When someone says, "In the hurry to get going on our trip…", they're referring to and implicitly describing a single type of hurrying. That's basically short for "We were hurrying to get going on our trip; in the hurry…". The longer form clarifies that it has to be qualified. "I am in the mood" is similarly qualified by context: you can't simply be in the mood, you have to be in the mood for something in particular, whether you state that explicitly or leave it to be inferred. And "I am in love" also requires qualification: someone or something to be in love with. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 18 '15 at 2:53
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Usually it is in a hurry, but a specific usage could be:

I am in the hurry of a lifetime. If I don't get to the job interview on time...

  • Ok, a cookie for you for finding a way to use 'the' in modern English :) – Michael Dorgan Jun 17 '15 at 18:23
0

One may assume that "I'm in a hurry" is a shortening of "I'm in a great hurry". The shortened form seems to have become the idiomatic form.

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I think that hurry as a noun means a situation in which you have to do things quicker otherwise you're gonna be late for sth. So you want to say

I'm in a situation that I have to be quicker

. Now instead of the clause "situation that...", put "hurry". You see you would say

I'm in a hurry.

P.S. situation is a countable noun so we can use a. Hope it helps.

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Article a & an are indefinite articles and used only for coutable,measurable and quantifiable nouns.noun 'hurry' does not qualify this rule. So it is a wrog sentence.

  • That doesn't explain why the most common usage is well-documented as "in a hurry". – Nathan Tuggy Nov 8 '16 at 5:19

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