He plays chess at (the) grandmaster level.

TommyGun

Senior Member
Hello,

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)?
 
  • 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.
     

    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:

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    The interesting question is, why does 2) sound better?
    Does my reasoning make any sense? What do you feel about the difference?
    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.
     

    MarcB

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