on a/the business level

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
-- We agreed to keep this evening strictly on a business level, correct?
Mr. Destiny, movie

Also, I've found that this expression is usually used with "a". I'd have expected "the".

1. Does "a bisiness level" imply that the business level has many "sublevels", and the "a business level" is just one of them?

2. Or does it mean it's "business level" that is one of the leves, like, "a business/friendly/enemy/etc level"?

I am almost 100% sure that the right answer is '2', but I would have expected '1':)

Thank you.
 
  • SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    -- We agreed to keep this evening strictly on a business level, correct?
    Mr. Destiny, movie

    Also, I've found that this expression is usually used with "a". I'd have expected "the".

    1. Does "a bisiness level" imply that the business level has many "sublevels", and the "a business level" is just one of them?

    2. Or does it mean it's "business level" that is one of the leves, like, "a business/friendly/enemy/etc level"?

    I am almost 100% sure that the right answer is '2', but I would have expected '1':)

    Thank you.
    The indefinite article has this characteristic: it is the unmarked form of the determiner. What "unmarked" means is that "a" doesn't need any special semantic reason to appear. By contrast, the definite article has this semantic requirement/"mark:" "business level" needs to be already known in the discourse. In other words, suppose that several "levels" had been talked about before (business level, personal level, romantic level etc.), then the definite article in "the business level" differentiates this "level" from the other levels. Absent such semantic requirement, the indefinite article becomes the default choice (a choice with a syntactic need: to have a full noun phrase).

    But there are no absolutes when it comes to article usage. In fact, you could have zero/no article (We agreed to keep this evening strictly on business level, correct?). What happens is that the speaker understands or assumes that the meaning/reference of "business level" is perfectly clear, so there's no need to modify the noun with a determiner.

    I'm not saying that you should go for the zero article; I'm simply pointing out that it is not entirely out of the question (though such usage would surely make your English teacher unhappy).
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    But there are no absolutes when it comes to article usage. In fact, you could have zero/no article (We agreed to keep this evening strictly on business level, correct?). What happens is that the speaker understands or assumes that the meaning/reference of "business level" is perfectly clear, so there's no need to modify the noun with a determiner.

    I'm not saying that you should go for the zero article; I'm simply pointing out that it is not entirely out of the question (though such usage would surely make your English teacher unhappy).
    You won't find a single example with "keep it on business level" in the internet.
    4 returns for "keep it on the business level"
    40 returns for "keep it on a business level"
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You won't find a single example with "keep it on business level" in the internet.
    4 returns for "keep it on the business level"
    40 returns for "keep it on a business level"
    I love the internet, but let's not assume that "keep it on business level" has never been used in the entire history of the English language just because it doesn't show up on the internet. Like I said earlier, I'm not suggesting that you should go around saying "keep it on business level."
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree that it is meaning 2 in post #1.

    Here the word "level" is used with a meaning of "basis" or "footing" or "way". This evening was supposed to be conducted in a businesslike way, not in a personal way. There are no clearly defined "ways", and we don't say "the (business) way".
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    not in a personal way
    By the way, I've found there's an expression in dictionaries -- "on a personal level" (unlike the business version).
    I love the internet, but let's not assume that "keep it on business level" has never been used in the entire history of the English language just because it doesn't show up on the internet. Like I said earlier, I'm not suggesting that you should go around saying "keep it on business level."
    I would formulate it differently -- if you can't find this expression even in the internet (where you can usually find anything) then it's sure something you shouldn't use:D
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I would formulate it differently -- if you can't find this expression even in the internet (where you can usually find anything) then it's sure something you shouldn't use:D
    Sounds like a plan. I can think of two exceptions: things common in spoken English but not written English, and long phrases. Google search is useful for short phrases, but not useful for sentences. For example a google search for [ "I wonder why she wants that" ] gets only 3 results. But it is a normal sentence.

    Searching [ "on business level" ] gets 117,000 results,
    while [ "on the business level" ] gets 892,000,
    and [ "on a business level" ] gets 298,000.

    I get 16,500 results for [ "keep it on a business level" ] and 4,400 results for [ "keep things on a business level" ],
    but only 2 for [ "keep it on the business level" ] and zero for [ "keep it on business level" ].

    I pick the results that support my opinion. Isn't that what the internet is for?:D
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Searching [ "on business level" ] gets 117,000 results,
    while [ "on the business level" ] gets 892,000,
    and [ "on a business level" ] gets 298,000.
    Never trust these figures:D To get the actual result, flip through the pages until the end, and you'll find out that "on business level" has only 156 results, in the most cases "business level" acting as an adjective.

    For example a google search for [ "I wonder why she wants that" ] gets only 3 results. But it is a normal sentence.
    It is, but it's not an expression, which "on a business/personal level" is and which is used more widely.
     
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