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Thread: truth vs. lie


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    #1

    truth vs. lie

    Why do we say "tell the truth", but we don't usually say "tell the lies"?

  1. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: truth vs. lie

    Quote Originally Posted by blue_jay975 View Post
    Why do we say "tell the truth", but we don't usually say "tell the lies"?
    (not a teacher) I would say it's because "the truth" is an abstract, uncountable noun, whereas lies are concrete and can be counted. Some say that "the truth" is unknowable, others say it's out there, but if I said that I'm 2.5 metres tall, built like Adonis with the voice of an angel and mind like Hawking or Einstein, I have just told 4 very specific and easily countable lies. I am, however, telling the truth when I say that "I did not have sex with that woman."

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    #3

    Re: truth vs. lie

    Truth is specific and particular, hence the article 'the' is used.
    On the other hand, lies are indefinite and can be anything other than the truth. Hence it is general and the article is not used.

    not a teacher

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    #4

    Re: truth vs. lie

    Quote Originally Posted by tedtmc View Post
    Truth is specific and particular, hence the article 'the' is used.
    On the other hand, lies are indefinite and can be anything other than the truth. Hence it is general and the article is not used.

    not a teacher
    Pretty much correct, although it is possible to count "truth", there are different types of "truths". In the context of this question though we are talking about "The Truth" the absolute truth.

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    #5

    Re: truth vs. lie

    Quote Originally Posted by stuartnz View Post
    I would say it's because "the truth" is an abstract, uncountable noun, whereas lies are concrete and can be counted.
    I don't know about that:
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ...
    Perhaps collocability has something to do with it?

    tell a lie
    tell lies

    tell the truth
    tell truths , but truths is English.
    tell a truth , but a truth is English.

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    #6

    Re: truth vs. lie

    We seem to have posted at the same time Soup.

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    #7

    Re: truth vs. lie

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    I don't know about that:
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ...
    Perhaps collocability has something to do with it?

    tell a lie
    tell lies

    tell the truth
    tell truths , but truths is English.
    tell a truth , but a truth is English.
    Yes, the other replies also highlighted my error there, my failing to distinguish between "the truth" (capitalised in speech if not in writing), and "truth".

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    #8

    Re: truth vs. lie

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    We seem to have posted at the same time Soup.
    It happens--for the good.

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    #9

    Re: truth vs. lie

    Quote Originally Posted by stuartnz View Post
    Yes, the other replies also highlighted my error there, my failing to distinguish between "the truth" (capitalised in speech if not in writing), and "truth".
    I don't see that as an error.

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    #10

    Re: truth vs. lie

    One truth, many lies

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