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My dad and I are arguing whether "the" is able to be used in this sentence:

Where did he find the time and energy to fight so many times?

I say that "the" is allowed to be used but my dad says "the" cannot be used in this case. Can "the" be used in the above sentence/question and if possible, when are you allowed to use "the" in a sentence?

EDIT: Seemingly, I wrote the sentence wrong. The sentence should be:

Where did he find the energy and time to fight so many times?

But I will take in account of all answers made before this edit.

  • There is nothing wrong with either order, that I can discern. Omitting "the" very slightly changes the sense of the question, but the change is subtle (and hard to explain). – Hot Licks Oct 2 '15 at 0:04
  • (Though "the time and energy" is slightly more idiomatic than "the energy and time".) – Hot Licks Oct 2 '15 at 0:05
  • Would you say 'I have neither time nor inclination to explain myself ...' or, like Col. Nathan R. Jessup in the film (Writer Aaron Sorkin) A Few Good Men , 'I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself ...'? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 2 '15 at 0:09
  • I would suggest taking the word "the" out of that sentence. – anonymous Oct 2 '15 at 0:43
  • @AJdollasign21 - That would change the meaning of the sentence. – Hot Licks Oct 2 '15 at 12:36
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According to a few sources I found, "find the time" is an accepted idiom in American English meaning "to have sufficient time". Apparently it can be used as "find the time to do xyz" or "find time to do xyz" - either way is acceptable.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

The Free Dictionary

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Sentences using

I don't know where he finds the time / strength / energy / courage // money to ...

I haven't the time / ... to ...

are common in English. They can be considered as deletions, probably from

I don't know where he finds the time needed / he needs to do all he does.

etc. They are grammatical. However, substituting other comparable terms for resources

(?I don't know where he finds the composure to ...

*/? I haven't the bravery to ...

I haven't the readies to ...)

often produces results sounding distinctly weird.

I haven't time to do that today.

is also acceptable, and here means the same as the version with the definite article. But there can be subtle differences. We wouldn't normally say 'This job keeps me so busy that I haven't time to fly home every weekend' or 'Because the taxi is so late, I haven't the time to catch the train'. But 'I haven't courage to go so near the edge' is non-idiomatic and possibly unacceptable.

Where did he find energy to fight so many times?

also sounds unidiomatic. You could probably get away with

Where did he find time and energy to fight so many times?

with proximity persuasiveness winning over correct parallelism. But I'd say that with energy preceding time, the version with the definite article would be far better.

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