<The> downside to law enforcement

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Phoebe1200

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
NCIS (Tony and his Dad are having a drink)
Dad: What are you drinking?
Tony: Non-alcoholic beer.
Dad: The downside to law enforcement. Are there any upsides?
Tony: Well, I get to carry a gun.

By using "the", does he mean that it's the only downside to law enforcement?
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    It was an effort at humor by Tony. The downside of law enforcement is that they can't drink on the job. It is not the only downside (they do get to wear tweed jackets and polyester pants), but it is the one at hand.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    But you never can say "a downside of ...", while you can easily say "a downside to ....", right?
    This is dialog and I suspect the idea he was attempting to communicate was, "The downside of being a member of law enforcement is...".

    Grammatically you are correct, but to my ear this sounds like reasonable dialog.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This is dialog and I suspect the idea he was attempting to communicate was, "The downside of being a member of law enforcement is...".

    Grammatically you are correct, but to my ear this sounds like reasonable dialog.
    The printed books that comprise the Google book database agree with you. "of" is far more popular than "to" after "the downside."
     
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