Is most unnecessary word “the”?

Today’s Daily Post prompt asks:

If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?

I believe, without a doubt, that the most useless word in the English language is the word “the”, which is also the very first word I would ban from general usage if I were able to do that. I mean, to use that word indicates a single instance of the object “the” is modifying – “the” dog, “the” group – one of each. Coincidentally, the next word(s) I would get rid of is “a” (and “an”), but “the” is a better first choice due to it’s greater length.

So sure, we would be going around sounding like a bunch of Russian immigrants, but can you imagine how much time, money, and text we would save? Books and articles would be significantly shorter, without sacrificing any content. And if, like many other languages, we assumed the default mode of a subject or object to be singular, then articles like “the”, “a”, and “an” really bring nothing to the table – like employees who come to work and consistently goof off all day.

What do you think? Is word “the” necessary thing to have in English language, or not?


  1. The book instead of a book refers to a specific book. One that had already been talked about, the book in general, or a special book like the Bible – whatever the context. Most languages do not have an undetermined article, thus letting go of “a” would make more sense. Definitively worth considering.

  2. Here is comment to main piece. It is written without word that you wish to ban.

    I give you permission to change American language but leave English language alone – I love music it has, poetry it conveys when exact word is used to express exact idea, so hands off ‘my’ language, please!

    RMR, (btw, did you meant to use word ‘definitely’ or word definitively’?) When you say ‘most languages’ do not have indefinite article what are numbers for this; I’d be interested in knowing.

    • Well I could agree with preserving English as is and changing American. However I did say many languages and not most, knowing for sure about Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Russian and Swahili. I’m thinking compactified language could be fairly useful. Thanks for input, is much appreciated!

  3. I think that languages without articles cope fine enough, but sometimes I find it nice to have an article in there, as it has a very different effect. I guess it depends whether we’re discussing language for communication (in which case, no article probably works fine), or for art – I’m a novelist and poet, and can get frustrated in various languages not being able to define a definite or indefinite noun. 🙂

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