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what a thing vs what the thing Options
mcurrent
Posted: Friday, October 5, 2018 9:21:47 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/6/2013
Posts: 252
Neurons: 7,273
Hi.
Can you explain to me what difference in meaning are there in these two phrases:

1) What a thing!
2) What the thing!

When do English-speaking people speak "a thing" and "the thing"?
Thanks.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, October 5, 2018 9:31:22 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,664
Neurons: 182,069
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
"Thing" is like any other noun.

"A thing" is an indefinite example.

"The thing" is a definite one which is usually being explained right now (in this sentence) or has been explained recently.

"What a thing!" and "What the thing!" are not sentences and don't really mean anything.
"What a thing!" might be used as an exclamation showing surprise at something existing . . .maybe.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
sureshot
Posted: Friday, October 5, 2018 10:52:21 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/16/2015
Posts: 2,024
Neurons: 379,421
mcurrent wrote:
Hi.
Can you explain to me what difference in meaning are there in these two phrases:

1) What a thing!
2) What the thing!

When do English-speaking people speak "a thing" and "the thing"?
Thanks.



To me, the expression "What a/the thing" seems incomplete and requires some words to convey the desired sense.Here are a few examples taken from a variety of sources:

What a thing

- What a thing to do to a loving little boy!
- What a thing to say!
- What a thing to have happened!
- She laughed. "What a thing to tell me at the start of a visit here!"
- What a thing to say to a complete stranger!
- "What a thing to long for."

What the thing

- It was too dark to see what the thing was.
- I cannot truly judge what the thing truly is.
- I've forgotten what the thing was made of.

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