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He plays chess at (the) grandmaster level.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by TommyGun, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. TommyGun Senior Member


    1. He plays chess at the grandmaster level.
    2. He plays chess at grandmaster level.

    I know that both sentences could be used, and both "the grandmaster level" and "grandmaster level" are definite levels.

    Then, is there any difference in sense between 1) and 2)?
  2. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    Sentence 2 "feels" better to me, although I don't find sentence 1 in any way incorrect. They certainly have the same meaning.
  3. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    I agree with Parla using" the "sounds more natural.
  4. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    Isn't that the opposite of what Parla said? I agree with MarcB, though; I like the one that includes "the," although they are both correct.
  5. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    I agree with Parla. Omitting "the" sounds more natural to me.

    If you invert, and say "at the level of grandmaster", you need the article, but when grandmaster is used adjectivally, the article is optional and better without.

    The "rule" for this is pretty wishy-washy, though, and subjective, I guess.

    "He plays at the highest level": Optional, better with.
    "He plays at top level": Optional, better without.
  6. TommyGun Senior Member

    Thank you, all!

    The interesting question is, why does 2) sound better?

    I think that sentence 2) expresses the sense more precisely. I perceive "grandmaster level" here as a specific level of the chess game.
    On the other hand, "the grandmaster level" in 1) raises a question of the context where this level is defined by "the". Is it a level of the chess game, or is it a level of any game where a skilled one can reach such a level, or is it a reference to a specific level that has been discussed before?
    To me, 1) seems to be a little bit more vague.

    Does my reasoning make any sense? What do you feel about the difference?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  7. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    I think we can all agree on that - particularly since I disagree with your "top level" example!
  8. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    I can understand how you might want your reasoning to make sense, but I think the question is of a rather more intuitive nature, and you can't very usefully reason about that.
  9. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Yes my mistake, "the"sounds right to me. But both work.

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