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The only thing missing VS the only missing thing

Discussion in 'English Only' started by benein, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. benein Senior Member

    Korean
    Hi everyone! :)
    I'm having trouble telling the difference between two similar phrases. Please help me with it.


    [context]
    It is from a novel named Mr. Monk and the dirty cop. And it is a description of a big lecture hall in a university.

    All the seats in the room had power plugs and tables for laptop computers. I imagined that being a student here was like listening to lectures in the business-class section of a British Airways jet. The only thing missing was someone pushing a cart down the aisles serving beverages and snakes.


    [question]
    If I rewrite the underlined sentence like this, "The only missing thing was someone pushing a cart down the aisles serving beverages and snakes." does it make any difference in meaning? What is it?

    To me, the two phrases, "The only thing missing" and "The only missing thing", mean the same.
    But I thought there must be some differences in meaning between the two. That's why the author wrote in that way and not the way I rewrote. However, I couldn't figure out why.. Would you like to help me?


    Thank you for reading my post! :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    Please name the novel, benein.
     
  3. benein Senior Member

    Korean
    It's from a novel named Mr. Monk and the dirty cop. :)
     
  4. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    Thank you. (Sounds like fun.) I think there's no difference in meaning, benein. I prefer the first one, though others could easily differ on this point.
     
  5. benein Senior Member

    Korean
    Thank you for replying Beryl from Northallerton. :)
    Yes! It is really fun! :thumbsup:
    I found another example while watching a TV show named Monk. I would like to know how you think about this.


    [context]
    Mr. Monk and his assistant Natalie broke into a suspect's house to look for some evidences.

    In a kitchen, there were a set of knives in a wooden knife block. And one of the slots was empty.
    Looking at this, Mr. Monk said "There is a knife missing." And Natalie looked around and found the knife on a table. And she said "It's right here. He was making a sandwich."

    Mr. Monk: There is a knife missing.
    Natalie: It's right here. He was making a sandwich.


    [question]
    If I rewrite what Mr. Monk said in this way, "There is a missing knife." do you feel the same as your Post #4?
    => There is a knife missing. VS There is a missing knife.


    Thank you for reading my post! :D
     
  6. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I don't know what I said in post #4, and I won't look until I've posted this. In the new context, I prefer Mr Monk's original to your revision. ('There is a knife missing.' :tick:)
     
  7. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    It seems to me we use the participle after the noun when we introduce the existence of something, or in this case the non-existence. Then after we know something is missing, we can talk about it with the participle as an adjective: There is a knife missing. The missing knife will have jam and crumbs on it. It is more natural to say 'the missing knife' than 'a missing knife', which would introduce it into the conversation.
     
  8. benein Senior Member

    Korean
    Thank you very much Beryl from Northallerton. :D
    My question has been solved!

    Your great explanation really helped me understand this! Thank you! :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  9. benein Senior Member

    Korean
    Thank you very much entangledbank! :D
    My question has been solved!

    After I read your great explanation, I learned so many things! You broadened my understanding on English! Thank you! :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  10. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    In US English, "the only thing missing" is a common expression; we would not say "the only missing thing".
     
  11. benein Senior Member

    Korean
    Thank you for replying Parla! :D

    Your reply helped me use this expression more freely. :thumbsup:
     

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