Submitted by Dyske on March 18, 2003

The Reality

“The sun” gets the article “the,” because there is only one sun. Anything that we have only one of, we put the article. How about “reality”? When we use the word “reality,” don’t we imply its absoluteness? If there are many realities, then the word loses its meaning, i.e., it is no longer reality but an interpretation. If I mean by “reality” something there is only one of, couldn’t I put the article? For example:

“Joe is out of touch with the reality.”

(with that, I mean one and the only reality; not a specific one.).

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I would like to know the rules regarding quotation marks, as to which punctuation would come inside the mark and which would come outside.

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Remember when writers used to capitalize the names of abstract concepts, like "Truth," "Faith," and "Honor?" (This was a particularly common affectation of writers who were attracted to mysticism.) Basically the words were treated as names, as proper nouns. You wouldn't say "the Chicago" or "the Tom Cruise," for example, unless you were playfully implying that Chicago and Tom Cruise have imitators.

Now, when we say someone is out of touch with reality, we mean an abstract concept that could be thought of as a name. When we mean something less abstract than the concept itself, we do indeed use the article: "He doesn't understand the reality of the situation." "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" "The honor of the Musketeer demanded that the Baron must meet him behind the inn with sabers at daybreak."

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Reality doesn't necessarily imply one thing. We do use the article with reality in such a sentence as "He doesn't understand the reality of the situation." Here I'm not talking about an absolute universal thing. It's a particular thing, 'of the situation.'

Think of the sentence "The reality in China is very different from the reality in America." What reality is for a Chinese person is very different from what it is for an American. Which one is absolute, and who's authorized to say so?

Finally, 'reality' is an uncountable noun. 'The sun' is not.

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Thanks Wynne. I fixed the quotation marks. I'm aware of the rules of quotation marks, but I keep forgetting. I just think it looks so much better when commas and periods are outside of quotes, especially when you list them in sequence.

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Not every noun gets an article. http://www.usingenglish.com/glossary/zero-artic...
The grammar term is "zero article," as in "Time is money."

Also, commas belong inside quotation marks, as do periods; the semi-colon and colon go outside.

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