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View Poll Results: Is it a definite article?
Yes 3 30.00%
No 4 40.00%
Either 3 30.00%
Neither 0 0%
Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-09-2010, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Buffalo, trying to leave
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I've always been curious as to what some more of you grammatically inclined individuals think about that.

Here in Buffalo it's referred to as THE 219, the 90, etc.

I don't like it though, and am consistently reminded that I am wrong when I say something like, "Then taken the ramp to 219."

What do you think? Is it a definite article?
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:34 PM
Status: "Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!" (set 1 day ago)
 
Location: Suburban Dallas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthBound47 View Post
I've always been curious as to what some more of you grammatically inclined individuals think about that.

Here in Buffalo it's referred to as THE 219, the 90, etc.

I don't like it though, and am consistently reminded that I am wrong when I say something like, "Then taken the ramp to 219."

What do you think? Is it a definite article?

First, you'd have to know something about how highways across the country are labeled by the government. Secondly, you then listen to locals telling you what the labels are from their traffic reporters and from civilians. This situation doesn't really have much to do with grammar as it does with regional geographical makeup and how different states and cities tick.

It also largely depends on what you are writing about and what level of formality. I will tell you that that thing in Buffalo is Interstate 90 (the road from Boston to Seattle). Again, locals just tend to put other labels on it.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:49 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Highway designations vary widely by local usage. In California, highways are called "The 5" and "The 101", but in most other states, are called "I-95".

US-40 in Illinois is called "Highway 40" until it gets to the Mississippi River, where Missourians call it "40 Highway".

K-10 in Kansas and M-10 in Michigan are the state numbered highways bearing those numbers. "Root" 35 in some states is called "Rowt" 35 in others.

Radio traffic reporters use a bewildering assortment of expressions. The "Mousetrap" in Denver, the "Depressed Lanes" in St. Louis, and the New Orleans industrial crossings that can be used when they are in the down position. New Orleans is wonderful. Both bridges to the West Bank go almost straight east. "Uptown" is south of Canal Street, and "Downtown" is north.

The busiest traffic spot in Traverse City Michigan is the intersection of North US-31 South and West South Airport Road.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:30 AM
 
Location: Cushing OK
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I have always said "The 91" and always will. You can tell the California transplants here easily when roads are described. Here I've even heard it said to Take 40 north, no I or the. Sounds really strange
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Old 07-13-2010, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Vermont
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As others have said, there are regional differences.

I've never lived anywhere where the definite article was used before a highway number.

In northern New Jersey, where I grew up, we would generally refer to state highways as "Route 4" or "Route 17", but it was also common to use just the number. I think they have continued that practice with the interstates, so you'll hear "Route 80" in reference to Interstate 80.

People commonly shorten the names of the highways they use frequently, so you'll hear people in New York City refer to the Major Deegan Expressway as the Major Deegan, or just the Deegan. (And speaking of New York, disregard what the signs say and never say "Avenue of the Americas"; it's Sixth Avenue.)

A major highway I've spent many hours driving on in southern Ontario is commonly referred to as "the 401" or "401 highway", whereas I would be inclined to just say "401".

Wherever I've lived as an adult, when referring to interstates the people have either said "I 89" or just "89".

I recognize different patterns sound strange to you, but one way isn't necessarily more correct than another.
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Old 07-13-2010, 02:25 PM
 
Location: NE CT
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It's regional..Everything I have read here fits well. In England they call a LAH (Limited Access Highway) which it really is, and so called by the US government, the M...I think for "Motorway".

So, here in the US, the technical name for an interstate highway is the "Limited Access Highway" and in England it is known as the "M" or Motorway. In Germany it is the Autobahn.

We drivers have all kinds of names for them, I have even heard I-90 called "Speedstreet" in Boston
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Old 07-13-2010, 09:10 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
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Because it is regional, when you are doing a character who is from a particuar place its good to see what the local form is. If its wrong, someone from there will notice it and it will distract.
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:18 PM
 
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Other things of note. Not all interstate highways are interstate. I-17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff is an interstate highway that never crosses a state.

In Philadelphia all the Interstates have other names, and if your not from the area and you listen to traffic reports your screwed. I-476 the Blue Route. I-276 the PA-Turnpike. I-676 the Vine Street Expressway. I-76 the schuylkill expressway. even I-95 is the delaware expressway. And ALL the media stations don't use the route numbers. So you will a reporter tell you that "There is an accident at the Schuykill and the Pa turnpike which is backing up traffic all the way down the blue route to the delaware expressway on one end and all the way back to center city and the "Vine" on the other."

I always say "I" as in I-95 or "US" as in US-17. For state routes I just use the state route number. Because there are places where they may overlap. With some exceptions. It is also the "Mass Pike" instead of I-90, you will NEVER hear I-90. And its always the "Thruway" not the NY Thruway or I-87. Just as in DC its ALWAYS the "Beltway" Not I-495 or I-95. In Baltimore its not I-95 or 695 or 895 its what tunnel or bridge you used. I heard someone tell me they were on the Ft. McHenry, and I had to pause to know they were on I-95 instead of I-895 the Harbor Tunnel. My favorite is the "Hutch" Only people in the NY area know what that is.
There are a ton of other examples, and it really does depend on where you live.
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:01 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Yes, to reiterate above, it's regional. I can always tell someone from Southern California is they say "THE [highway number]". I didn't realize folks in Buffalo said that, too.

I'm one who just says the number: "take 540 to 40, then look for 147". Some would say "I-40" and that wouldn't register oddly on my linguistic radar, except that I might subconsciously think they hadn't lived here long, because locals usually don't say the "I-", though it's not incorrect.

Also, be careful what different cities call their "round highway that circles the city". Many cities say "The Beltway" but where I live, it's the "BeltLINE" and it makes me crazy for someone to call it "The Beltway". We ain't no DC!!
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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To answer the grammatical question, the name of the Interstate highway is a NAME, and therefore does not take any article. It is not "The I-35" nor is it "An I-35". It is just "I-35", like "Abraham Lincoln" or "Tucumcari, New Mexico" or "Fox News".

Some names can take either article, or none at all, depending on the context. "Walmart has stores in most towns. There is a Walmart in El Campo, but it's not a supercenter, so I have to go to the WalMart in Edna to buy groceries."

There are always exceptions. Some names always take an article, by long usage and convention. The Chicago Cubs, or The Odeon Theater. The Empire State Building, but Yankee Stadium, without an article. In California, roads have become included in this convention. The 101. That neither makes it right nor wrong, it is just they way people say it. It sounds right to them.

Last edited by jtur88; 08-26-2010 at 04:34 PM..
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