# draw a/the line

#### inqui

##### New Member
Hello!
I have found these two expressions: "draw a line" and "draw the line". They have to do with setting a limit or restriction, but are they synomys (and hence interchangeable) or is there a difference in meaning? If so, how would you translate them into Spanish?
Thank you!

• The difference is the same as the difference between "a" and "the." And welcome.

The normal expression for "set a limit" is "draw the line."
And welcome to the forum!

The difference is the same as the difference between "a" and "the." And welcome.

Thank you, Tazzler. Sorry, but let me ask again in case I didn't make it clear before. I don't mean the literal meaning of drawing a/the line, but the use of the expressions in sentences such as "She's always playing jokes, but she doesn't know where to draw a/the line and she ends up offending people". Can we use the two expressions here or is there a difference in meaning? Thank you, again.

"She doesn't know where to draw the line"

inqui, do you have an example of where you've seen "draw a line" in context?

k-in-sc's example above is all i can think of at the moment.

Thank you, K-in-sc.

An example with context for "draw a line": "There is a problem with foxes. We have to draw a line, we can't just allow their numbers to keep growing" I feel "draw the line" would not be possible here. Not sure. Don't know whether there is a difference in meaning if we use one expression or the other.

We have to draw a line: we have to set some sort of limit (to be determined, not universally accepted)
She doesn't know where to draw the line: she doesn't know what is acceptable and what isn't (more or less universally accepted)

I would agree with k-in-sc, and add my own commentary on the examples given.

We have to draw a line: we have to set some sort of limit <-- the "line" or limit in "draw a line" is neutral. It's just that a limit needs to be agreed upon.

She doesn't know where to draw the line. <-- Here, someone who goes past that "line" is breaking some kind of social rule or custom or understanding of what is proper, so the usage is not neutral. We are making a (negative) judgment about the person. Someone who doesn't know where to draw the line goes too far.

Thank you! Really helpful. Now I see the difference.