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"Please use other door" signs are common. But would you ever say this? Or would you say "please use the other door"?

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Those are very good links. Thanks! (However, please note that my question is different, so I'd still like an answer: I ask if saying "please use other door" is correct.) –  rgrig Jun 24 '11 at 15:00
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it's because native speakers wont notice if you a word out. –  zzzzBov Jun 24 '11 at 19:19
    
I would read it with a pause to mark the missing word: "Please use [...] other door" –  Alexander Jun 24 '11 at 22:00
    
Again, my question is about speech, so your 'it' is ambiguous. I'd be surprised if native speakers don't notice when words are dropped in speech. On the other hand, I do agree with your point that they don't notice when apostrophes are dropped. –  rgrig Jun 25 '11 at 11:15
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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

No, you would not normally say that. Signs are often expressed in a short and unspecific way. By making the text short, you can use a smaller sign, or use larger text on the same space.

The sign would have different meanings depending on the alternatives. Either:

Please use the other door.

or:

Please use any of the other doors.

By being unspecific, the sign can be used for both situations. Also, the text is half as long as the one you would need to use if there are more than one other door, saving valuable space.

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@Peter Mortensen: No, it was just an extra u in there... But it would certainly make the sign shorter if we could use "pleause other door", or perhaps even "pleause doother" ;) –  Guffa Jun 24 '11 at 18:48
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Real estate is a precious commodity.

The less you have to print on a sign, the smaller you can make it and less you have to spend on ink/paint/materials.

But to answer your question; no, I wouldn't say that. I would read the sign as "Please use the other door."

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"No trucks left lane" –  user362 Jun 24 '11 at 18:11
    
What are you trying to say? –  OghmaOsiris Jun 24 '11 at 18:12
    
Just pointing out a very common sign found on New Jersey highways with the same "issue". –  user362 Jun 24 '11 at 18:13
    
It's a shame advertisers and marketing don't agree with you. –  osknows Jun 24 '11 at 23:01
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Both are acceptable and understood.

However, for me, 'Please use other door' when spoken sounds curt and I would look at the person who said it to see if they were being antagonising.

'Please use the other door' sounds more polite.

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I would look at the person who said it to see if they were foreign or mentally handicapped. –  Jon Purdy Jun 24 '11 at 20:13
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Not that being foreign or mentally handicapped is a bad thing. –  pavium Jun 25 '11 at 6:44
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That's exactly it: "Real estate is a precious commodity."

As a result, a series of conventions has grown up surrounding signage, headlines, proofreading symbols, and other places that I cannot think of right now, in which space is tight or there is a need to be understood quickly. The conventions include abbreviations and omissions. Particularly, articles ("the," "a/an") are standard omissions in these situations. English is usually understandable and often clear without them.

I disagree that "Please use other door," when spoken sounds curt. It doesn't sound rude, it is just stilted and incorrect grammar. Written in any sort of prose, or spoken, the article is of course grammatically necessary.

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What about 'Please use other paper'? Paper could be both plural and non-plural but it's still grammatically correct I think? –  osknows Jun 24 '11 at 15:37
    
@osknows - Without context, I can't tell what that sentence means (which, I would say, tends to indicate that it's a bad usage...) Do you mean "Don't use this particular sheet of paper"? In that case, say "Please use the other paper." Do you mean "Don't use this kind of paper"? In that case, "Please use different paper" works, but still sounds stilted; "Please use a different kind of paper" would be better. Articles are our friends; you can leave them out when you're making a sign, but you really should use them in speech! –  MT_Head Jun 24 '11 at 17:29
    
I don't care! You're not using this paper. :) (I'm not being rude, just trying to get over my opinion) –  osknows Jun 24 '11 at 17:51
    
I agree with @MT_Head in that articles should be used in speech, but just to highlight another written example, people often leave articles out of their resumes in order to make their experience descriptions more concise and to use that space for other more illustrative words. –  Eri Jun 24 '11 at 18:30
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I think this is an example of what Messrs H.W. & F.G. Fowler described as Headline English — done for brevity and conciseness. As OghmaOsiris said, because Real estate is a precious commodity on a sign, just as in a newspaper headline.

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