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  1. #1
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    Question difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    Hi


    Was wondering if there is a major difference in useage of 'the' between British and American english.

    The two sentences are as follows:

    ...help the cause of the untouchables, a group of ...

    ... help the cause of untouchables, a group of...

    Some of my friends have indicated that they think British speakers have a tendency to use 'the' more.

    Is this true?

    Is there some kind of grammatical difference in the above sentences or is it more just a personal preference?

    They both sound normal to me, but a Japanese friend is trying to understand if one is better than the other.

    smiles
    riceball

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    As a BrE speaker, I would definitely use the definite article there.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    Thank you for your reply Tdol - I was wondering if there is a grammatical reason, or explanation for it though?

    smiles
    riceball

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    They're a defined group of people to me. I don't know what Americans would say.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    Your example is actually a special case. "Untouchables" without an article refers to social or cultural outcasts in AmE. But "the Untouchables" (with the article, and whether capitalized or not) were a group of special agents of the U.S. Department of Justice led by Eliot Ness during the Prohibition era. They were famous for capturing many notorious gangsters, including the legendary Al Capone.

    Otherwise, AmE generally uses articles for defined groups (the homeless, the disenfranchised, the upper middle class, etc) just like our BrE counterparts.

  6. #6
    eflnow is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    Quote Originally Posted by riceball72 View Post
    Thank you for your reply Tdol - I was wondering if there is a grammatical reason, or explanation for it though?

    smiles
    riceball

    One difference that comes to mind:

    In BrE: to be in hospital (as a patient)
    In AmE: to be in the hospital (as a patient)

    I have come across this difference in my years of teaching ESOL.

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    Default Re: difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    Quote Originally Posted by eflnow View Post
    One difference that comes to mind:

    In BrE: to be in hospital (as a patient)
    In AmE: to be in the hospital (as a patient)

    I have come across this difference in my years of teaching ESOL.
    Growing up near the Detroit/Windsor border, I've noticed that folks in Ontario, Canada, also say "in hospital" instead of "in the hospital."

  8. #8
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    Default Re: difference in use of 'the' with American and British English

    Thank You everyone for taking the time to answer!

    smiles
    Riceball

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