<an><the> opposite word

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
Does 'opposite' always require 'the' in front?

When talking about a word, if someone wonders and asks for one of the words that have the opposite meaning. Can we shorthand it to, "What is an opposite word?"? You know there is not only one word that has the opposite sense but there may be more.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No. "Opposite" implies there is only one, and in the singular form usually requires the definite article. You would ask "What is the opposite of light?", for example, even when there are two obvious opposites - "dark" and "heavy" - because each corresponds to a different meaning of "light".

    For your question, there is an obvious alternative: "What is an antonym (of...)?
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    I imaged you are required to use 'the.' It's much like 'wrong,' isn't it? You always say 'the wrong something.'
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    You always say 'the wrong something.'
    Not at all; there are many wrongs, and it is common to use the indefinite article. The indefinite article is only avoided in situations where there is only meant to be one, such as with superlatives or, as here, opposites.
     
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