a key to success, the key to success

KDH

Senior Member
Korean
What difference do you see between "a key to success" and "the key to success"? Probably, the difference might be whether the speaker believes there is only one way or multiple ways to success. But there are certainly at least more than one key to success. Then, why people tend to speak of "the key to success"? Are they simply emphasizing their point or are they being overbearing about their point? Or are they just pointing to the fact the key they present is single?
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Probably, the difference might be whether the speaker believes there is only one way or multiple ways to success.
    This interpretation seems reasonable to me, KDH.

    Are they simply emphasizing their point or are they being overbearing about their point? Or are they just pointing to the fact the key they present is single?
    This is difficult to answer. If I agree with somebody's opinion, I'll probably think that speaker is merely emphasizing his or her view about what is necessary for success. If I disagree with somebody's opinion, I may think the speaker is trying to belittle other points of view by claiming that there is only one key to success.
     

    KDH

    Senior Member
    Korean
    This interpretation seems reasonable to me, KDH.

    This is difficult to answer. If I agree with somebody's opinion, I'll probably think that speaker is merely emphasizing his or her view about what is necessary for success. If I disagree with somebody's opinion, I may think the speaker is trying to belittle other points of view by claiming that there is only one key to success.
    Thank you owlman. The reason I'm raising this question is because I want to know whether there is a tendency among English speakers to use the finite article where unnecessary or even inappropriate for certain purposes, for example, to emphasize his or her point. What do you think? Is it resonable to believe there is such a tendency among some English speakers?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You're welcome. Although I don't think verbal trickery is exclusive to English-speakers, I do agree that a speaker could use "this is the key to success" if he believed that his idea was the only idea worth considering.

    Learning to spot misleading or dishonest uses of language is a wonderful skill. Our high schools and universities sometimes attempt to teach students to think critically when they are reading something.
     

    KDH

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you very much, owlman. But please don't get me wrong. I didn't mean to say that verbal trickery was exclusive to English speakers :)
     
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    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    But please get me wrong. I didn't mean to say that verbal trickery was exclusive to English speakers
    I believe you, KDH. :) You're absolutely right that using an exclusive article like "the" is one of many ways to present biased information in English.

    I think it's great that you are using your critical thinking skills as you read various things in English.
     

    KDH

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks! I studied political philosophy for years, and maybe that's why I use critical thinking even when I'm studying English :)
     
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