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A Bright Concept

Welcome to the Writing Portfolio of Gabriel Liwerant

This holiday season, after all the partying is done, one is likely to find his or her house a mess. So when Quinn drops by her friend Peter's place, she may be tempted to say,

"My God, your living room is in shambles!"

Tempting as it may be to use the above expression, it's wrong. Quinn should say,

"My God, your living room is in a/the shambles!"


"My God, your living room is a/the shambles!"

Why? Because shambles is actually a noun! More specifically it is a place: a slaughterhouse. Check the definition from Merriam Webster, http://m-w.com/dictionary/shambles. We don't refer to slaughterhouses as shambles anymore, but the convention of using it to describe a mess has remained. Yet, because the definition of the word has fallen from common lexicon, people have stopped introducing the word with an article. But one wouldn't say,

"This kitchen is in barnyard!"


"That classroom is pigsty!"

Still not convinced? I'll end with a line from Shakespeare's Othello,

"O, ay! as the summer flies are in the shambles,/That quicken even with the blowing." (Act IV, Scene II, Lines 75-76)

Happy Holidays!