It's the custom or a It's a custom to do something

Shahrooz

Senior Member
Persian
Part of a dialogue in New Interchange book 3 unit 5:

Marta: Yes, but what do you do when you are invited to someone’s house here?

Karen: well, it’s the custom to bring a small gift.

I don’t know why I feel that it should be “ It’s a custom to … “

Why “the” and not “a” is preceding custom?
 
  • TommyGun

    Senior Member
    Hi all,

    Which of these sentences is right?

    1. It is the custom for people to have several computers at home.
    2. It is a custom for people to have several computers at home.


    I am more inclined towards 2., because people can have other customs, and the custom about computers is one of many.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi all,

    Which of these sentences is right?

    1. It is the custom for people to have several computers at home.
    2. It is a custom for people to have several computers at home.


    I am more inclined towards 2., because people can have other customs, and the custom about computers is one of many.
    I think you're misusing "custom."

    "Typical" is the word you want, I believe.

    I don't think home computers have been around long enough to become part of a "custom."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Personally, I would say, It is customary for people to have several computers at home. customary = usual, normal

    "It is the/a custom..."
    is usually reserved for cultural idiosyncrasies and traditions.

    (Cross-posted with sdg, with whom I agree.)
     
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