If (the) service is passable

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HenryTsang

Member
China-Mandarin
Hi all,

I saw the following in an article about tipping:

If service is passable at best, do not tip.

Why no "the" before "service"? Isn't it obvious that there is a definite type of service is referred to here, i.e. the service that has been rendered. I asked our evening English teacher, but he says that in such a formulation we can omit the definite article if we want to. According to him, the definite article only makes more definite the service or the implication of that service (i.e. "the service THAT WAS RENDERED). But he couldn't explain it any better than "that's just the way it is".

Might anybody here explain?

Thank you for your help.

HT
 
  • truepurple

    Senior Member
    English-US
    It's not a particular service that it's referring to, it's any service you receive. So it's better without the "the".

    Now if the matrade came and asked you, zhe might say "How was the service?" because now a particular instance of service is being talked about.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I think either with or without the is fine, but I would probably use the. My reasoning is that even though it's talking about a hypothetical service, it's still talking about how you should react in the future to one definite sort of service. It's the same as if you were talking generally about the concept of renting a car and said, "What do I do if the car breaks down?" There doesn't have to be a definite car.
     

    HenryTsang

    Member
    China-Mandarin
    That makes sense, what you two have said. Thank you, true purple and JustKate, for your help. I understand this better now.

    HT
     

    truepurple

    Senior Member
    English-US
    if you were talking generally about the concept of renting a car and said, "What do I do if the car breaks down?" There doesn't have to be a definite car.
    "What is your car rental prices and what happens if a car breaks down?"

    The "a" works too, better even. Since the customer has yet to commit to renting a car, so it's still a "a". The sign is even more general, it is speaking to everyone, and all their potential services, so a "the" doesn't work for me, or at least is unnecessary.
     
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