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I'm having trouble correcting this sentence: "All the types of the music". The definite article before "music" is not correct, I know. But I'm not sure about "the types". Can you help me?

It is a piece of a writing from a teenager. He wrote: " I like to listen to music. That is my favourite thing in the world. All the types of music."

  • It would be fine is a construction such as: All the types of music listed here, but not in I like all types of music. – KarlG Jan 20 '18 at 20:44
  • I know that "All types of music" sounds better... but I can't find a way to justify WHY (grammarly speaking) we take the definite article before the word: "types". – cavalY Jan 20 '18 at 22:13
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    'All types of music' is an example of a standard expression, and is rarely used in the precise sense. 'All the types of music' would have to include breakbeat, EDM, medieval, Tuvan Throat Singing, Noh, Zikr, fidget house, freak folk, lowercase, martial industrial, mathcore, chiptune, romantic ... – Edwin Ashworth Jan 20 '18 at 22:28
  • Okaaay.... getting there! That's more like what I need! Thanks!!!!!! – cavalY Jan 20 '18 at 22:32
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    Of all the types of music you had to choose from, you picked reggae for the company Christmas party??? – Hot Licks Dec 17 '18 at 22:52
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You use the definite article "the" when you are referring to something specific, for example:

The children need feeding.

You might use this to refer to your own children or some other specific set of children already referred to; but:

Children need feeding.

This is a much more inclusive statement with a global scope. It means all children need feeding, which of course they do!

So "all the types of music" sounds like you are referring to a specific set of music genres. Even if you mean it in a very broad sense to mean literally all music types, it suggests or at least infers that there are a limited or finite number of genres. New types of music emerge all the time though, so such a statement could at least become dated - someone who claimed to like all the kinds of music around in 1970 may not say the same today.

On the other hand, "all types of music" without the definite article is as broad as you can be and does not suggest any limits. If a radio station said "we play all types of music" it would suggest they are not limited to a certain genre.

However, there is also a secondary, idiomatic use of "all types", which can simply mean "varied". For example, someone who says "I like all types of music" may simply mean that they have varied tastes, such as rock, pop and classical which are very distinct from one another, yet they may dislike rap. In this kind of context, it is not understood to mean that they like literally everything.

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All types of music and all the types of music mean different things. All types of music is treating the types as an amalgamation of sorts (not quite "uncountable", but close) -- there is no assumed distinguishing characteristic between one type and the next. All the types of music, on the other hand, is emphasizing the distinction between types.

  • Also, in the (OP’s) teenager’s quote, “all types of music” talks primarily about music whereas “all the types of music talks primarily about types. – Lawrence Dec 18 '18 at 5:02
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Both 'all' and 'the' are determiners. They had adequately defined the types of music they meant with the word 'all'.

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    But then you have Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage ..." with all and the next to each other. – Lawrence Jun 20 '18 at 8:41
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I would use "all types of music" and "all kinds of music" in writing or speech if I meant it (idiomatically) to convey that I like a lot of different music styles. "All the types" is grammatically correct if the speaker likes every type of music with no exceptions.

Using the definite article "the" before a plural noun is governed by whether things can be counted. "The" is generally used before plural nouns that are countable. A type of music is a discrete thing that can be counted, so "all the types of music" should be correct if the speaker does, in fact, like all music types without exception.

On the other hand, if the speaker simply means he/she likes a lot of different types of music, that's an idiomatic usage, and should not be interpreted to mean the speaker likes every style of music.

Maybe the common practice of dropping definite article "the" arose because a music "type" can be defined arbitrarily, so music types aren't really countable? The page in my link above says "'The' can be used with uncountable nouns, or the article can be omitted entirely." and uses the example that "He spilled the milk..." and "He spilled milk..." are both correct.

I've never heard or read someone use "all the types of music", probably because it's so unlikely that anyone has either heard all the types of music, or heard enough of each one to credibly claim he/she likes all of them without exception. If I did hear someone say that, I would interpret it as a hyperbolic statement, meant to convey that the speaker is just talking about a lot of different music styles, and not literally all of them.

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Somebody who says "All the types of music" presumes that there is a predetermined set of "the types of music", a set so well-known that the listener knows what types these are.

"All types of music" without the word "the" doesn't presume any such thing.

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