In an English grammar book I saw two sentences:

Tim isn't working hard today. He's taken the day off.

Although it is ridiculous to argue with a grammar book :) in this case I would suggest using an indefinite article:

Tim isn't working hard today. He's taken a day off.

Am I correct?

2 Answers 2


As usual with definite vs. indefinite article, the definite article implies a specific day and the indefinite article does not. However, in context, even the indefinite article can mean "today".

So: If Tom is not at work today and Mary asks "where is Tom today?" either answer could be used and both would be understood. But if, at the end of the month, someone asks why Tom billed fewer hours, then "he took a day off" is correct and "he took the day off" is not. BUT, another correct answer could be "remember? June 15 was his son's birthday and he took the day off".

  • 1
    Great examples of when it might matter, and spot on about how it wouldn't matter in this case.
    – J.R.
    Sep 2, 2013 at 21:03

They're both fine. Either can be used in the general sense, though I think the former might be more common in that sense. The latter can be used when you want to talk about using a day off from a finite pool of days off.

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