Community Tutor
The Important Of The Definite Article In English

One of my friends was playing the video game Pokemon X yesterday and reminded me of how important remembering to say just one word in American English can be. After defeating a gym leader in the game, he yelled out, "Yes!!! My Butterfree is the shit!" For all you non-gamers, Butterfree is the American English name for one of the Pokemon characters you can play in this game. The character's actual name in Japanese is バタフリー (Batafurī). Anyhow, I pointed out how his sentence would mean something else if he had said "My Butterfree is shit." The difference here is that if something is "the shit" then it is cool/awesome and in the case of a video game character, means that the character can beat just about anyone else because it is so powerful. If something is "shit" though, then it isn't good at all. He laughed and said "Yeah... No!" after realizing how leaving out the definite article can radically change the meaning of something and in this case, can even give it the opposite meaning. In a way, this reminds me some of how in Spanish, certain adjectives change their meaning if placed before or after the nouns they modify, although, in this case it is the presence of the definite article that matters. I wonder if there are any other words in American English that do this. I can't think of any offhand though. Hmmm.

Apr 28, 2014 7:36 PM