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General Writing and Grammar Help/I often lose track of (the) time.

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Question
Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if you should say "lose track of time" or "lose track of the time", or if both ways are grammatically correct. In other words, do I need to use the word "the" in the following sentences, or are the sentences grammatically correct both when I use the word "the", as well as when I don't?
1. I often lose track of the time.
2. I often lose track of the time when I play computer games.
3. I often lose track of the time when I'm playing computer games.

Answer
Dear Glen:

I'm not sure if you should say "lose track of time" or "lose track of the time",
or if both ways are grammatically correct. In other words, do I need to use the
word "the" in the following sentences, or are the sentences grammatically
correct both when I use the word "the", as well as when I don't?
1. I often lose track of the time.
2. I often lose track of the time when I play computer games.
3. I often lose track of the time when I'm playing computer games.

***The phrase is used with and without the word "the."  It is an idiomatic expression that essentially means your mind is occupied with things other than "time."  I can't give you an estimate for the frequency of use for either way, but I would guess that it's about 50-50.

If you live in a geographical area in which most people include the word "the," then you most likely will also include it.  And, the converse is true.

It's your option.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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