Please have a look at the sentence below:
This is the popular song of Taylor Swift.

To me, if there isn't any specific song related to that singer known as "popular", the usage of the here is not correct.
The refers to the construct "popular song" here but more to the word "popular". And since apparently there isn't such a specific song known as "popular", we should use an indefinite article: This is a popular song of Taylor Swift.

Using the definite article can be optional in some cases but in this sentence, it's not.

Do you guys agree with me?

  • 1
    Popular isn't part of the name of a song; it's a description. If there's one Swift song that's popular (judged by say, sales or downloads), then the is fine. If Swift has no popular songs or more than one popular song, then the sentence doesn't make sense or it's ambiguous, but that's a semantic issue, not a grammatical one.
    – deadrat
    Jan 14, 2016 at 8:41
  • 1
    @deadrat>>"more than one popular song, then the sentence doesn't make sense or it's ambiguous", I agree with this.
    – Franky
    Jan 14, 2016 at 8:47
  • This is the popular song by TS. These are all the other songs by her; they were a disaster. This is the popular dance move by TS. I think she should do more dance moves... I don't understand your question.
    – Dan
    Jan 14, 2016 at 10:10
  • By "of" the sayer meant that, the song belongs to that singer.
    – Franky
    Jan 14, 2016 at 10:39
  • I'm sorry, but I'm confused. To be grammatical, the sentence requires a determiner before popular. Either type of article will do the trick, but they mean different things. On the one hand, you say "we should use an indefinite article"; on the other you say the definite article is not optional. The choice of article depends on the sense the writer wishes to convey, and that's not known ere.
    – deadrat
    Jan 14, 2016 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


I agree with you (in the absence of additional context) that the sentence should read,

"This is a popular song by Taylor Swift."

However, if one asked, "What are you listening to on your headset?" the answer might be,

"I'm listening to the popular song by Taylor Swift called, 'You Belong With Me.'"

This example confirms your observations of where the definite article could be used appropriately (i. e., in reference to a specific song). However, even in this example, like you, I would still prefer to use the indefinite article:

"I'm listening to a popular song by Taylor Swift called, 'You Belong With Me.'"

  • I'll add that in the second example, it wouldn't be inappropriate to use an indefinite article, either.
    – Brian Tung
    Jan 14, 2016 at 21:16
  • I doubt about your second example. Is "You Belong With Me" the only popular song sung be her? If not, I'd use an indefinite article there again.
    – Franky
    Jan 15, 2016 at 7:52
  • @BrianTung- I agree. Jan 15, 2016 at 15:30
  • @franky- Thank you for your comment. You are right. I have changed my answer accordingly. Jan 15, 2016 at 15:30
  • There is much to say on the definite article; it's a subtle subject. You are welcome.
    – Franky
    Jan 16, 2016 at 19:59

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