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Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2020 9:35:45 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/21/2015
Posts: 760
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Does "idea" have always go with "the"?

1 Do you like the idea of making some money on the side?

or can it be

2 Do you like an idea of making some money on the side?

When can we use "an idea of doing"?
Higgs271
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2020 10:27:28 AM

Rank: Member

Joined: 6/12/2015
Posts: 87
Neurons: 647,516
Location: Orange, California, United States
you say "the idea" when you're speaking about a specific idea:

--> I like the idea of selling our house.

you say "an idea" when you're speaking about a vague notion not discussed yet:

--> I have an idea -- let's sell our house!

specific: the idea, that idea, my idea, your idea, what idea?, which idea?, those ideas, the best idea, the worst idea, George's idea

vague: an idea, any idea, some idea, possible ideas, any ideas, whichever idea, some ideas, a random idea, a great idea

so you would say:

--> Do you like the idea of making some money?

--> He had an idea of how we could make some money, but he wouldn't tell me what the idea was... I'm sure it was a great idea.



Romany
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2020 1:15:49 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,927
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Jeez Higgs - haven't caught any of your posts before, but wanted to comment on how thorough and succinct this one was.

Maybe all your posts are, but I was struck by the neatness with which you dealt with the query here.

Just sayin...
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Sunday, September 27, 2020 2:59:05 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/21/2015
Posts: 760
Neurons: 12,370
Higgs271! Thank you!
To tell you the truth,for me, it's hard to fathom what makes a specific idea specific.

I like the idea of selling our house.
Why is it specific? Is it because of the specific house? Probably. What if I say:

Do you like the idea of reselling houses?

What is specific about it? I don't understand, really. There are millions of different ideas and it's just one of them. More confusing would be to mention the following:

at a speed of 100 mph.
Logically it is a specific speed and should go with "the" but it's not the case.
WeaselADAPT
Posted: Monday, September 28, 2020 4:15:03 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/6/2014
Posts: 366
Neurons: 89,377
Location: Kentwood, Michigan, United States
Ivan Fadeev wrote:
Higgs271! Thank you!
To tell you the truth,for me, it's hard to fathom what makes a specific idea specific.

I like the idea of selling our house.
Why is it specific? Is it because of the specific house? Probably. What if I say:

Do you like the idea of reselling houses?

What is specific about it? I don't understand, really. There are millions of different ideas and it's just one of them. More confusing would be to mention the following:

at a speed of 100 mph.
Logically it is a specific speed and should go with "the" but it's not the case.


Ivan,

Your example at the end here was very insigtful for someone who does not get the idea [pun intended] of how this works.

What Higgs means by a "specific" idea is one that is known, that has been previously articulated or discussed, or that is described as it is mentioned.

"I want a dog." "OK, well, what kind of dog would you like?" <-- Using "a" makes it clear that there is no specific dog in mind.
"I want the dog." "Great! I liked him, too!" <-- Using "the" tells us the listener already knows which dog is being referred to.

"I have an idea." "I can't wait to hear it!" <-- The idea has not yet been spoken about.
"Do you like the idea?" "Yes, you explained it very well, and I am all for it." <-- The idea has been discussed.

I hope I have brought you more clarity.

"at a speed of 100" <-- Good job. I cannot explain it.
All I can say is: "at the speed of light!"

the Weasel
WeaselWorks Freelance Editing
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Monday, September 28, 2020 8:33:35 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/21/2015
Posts: 760
Neurons: 12,370
WeaselADAPT! Thank you for commenting.
Let me specify the issue. Yes, I understand your examples. But it seems like "the idea of + gerund" always goes with "the".

Have you ever had a car? - correct
Have you ever had the idea of buying a car? - I think correct. (even though it's a new thing not mentioned before)
Logically this one should be correct:

Have you ever had an idea of buying a car? - but I think it's wrong.

Here is the issue.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, September 28, 2020 9:09:37 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,588
Neurons: 230,637
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Quote:
There are millions of different ideas and it's just one of them.

Yes - exactly - it's just one of them, a specific one.

There are millions (billions?) of possible ideas.
ONE SPECIFIC idea is "the idea of buying a car".
It's different from the idea of buying a van, or a motor-bike or the idea of selling my house.
It's the specific idea of buying a car.

"Have you ever had the idea of buying a car?"
That idea has not been mentioned before - but it is defined and specified in the question.

"Have you ever had an idea?" - unspecific - which idea?
"The idea of buying a car."

*******************
"Idea" is not always specific.

"Idea of ______________" is specific. The phrase "of ___________" specifies which idea.
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Monday, September 28, 2020 9:54:02 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/21/2015
Posts: 760
Neurons: 12,370
Drag0nspeaker!
Glad to hear from you! I completely understand your point. I seem to have stumbled upon another inconsistency though. As you will have agreed, it is OK to say:

at a speed of 100 mph (it's specific)
a smell of rubber
a right of doing something (rare but possible)

They go with A nonetheless they could also be specific
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