"In chat" vs "in the chat"



Which one is correct?

  1. Short questions are welcome in chat, like if you want to ask about a sentence.


  1. Short questions are welcome in the chat, like if you want to ask about a sentence.

Context: Someone asks for proofreading in the chat room. After that, one other person explains that which types of questions are welcomed over there. I quoted their explanation without any change in #1. The sentence #2 was constructed by me.


Posted 2016-08-12T19:09:54.133

Reputation: 5 877

1It's *in chat* - or (significantly less common among seasoned "chatters") *in the chat room*. But obviously this is a relatively new usage addressing a relatively new concept. I'm not sure the idiomatically established preference can be explained any better than that - it's just the usage which has become idiomatically established. Having said that, I think this is a good question, and I'd be interested to know if anyone else can give any additional justification for why things went that way. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-12T19:20:49.163

1@FumbleFingers cf. in conversation. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-12T19:33:49.887

@P. E. Dant: Offhand, conversation and discussion were the only "correlates" I could think of, but nobody ever uses either of those as "standalone nouns" referencing a [virtual] location where chat / conversation / discussion takes place. Nor do we use, say, *eat, drink, watch* as shorthand nouns for restaurant, pub, cinema, etc. I know there are always exceptions to every rule, but so far this *chat* usage seems almost like a law unto itself. I'd much rather we could come up with some more exact parallels, but maybe it's simply not possible in this case. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-12T19:51:24.197

I wouldn't call either one "incorrect." At most, the latter is "less idiomatic." – J.R. – 2016-08-12T19:58:01.623

@FumbleFingers Isn't in chat an inheritor of and a shortening of in IRC, as in "let's take this up in IRC?" To a geezer, it doesn't feel new, exactly. IRC has been with us since the days of Darpa, and of course channels are often called "rooms." – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-12T20:29:33.313

1@P. E. Dant: I thought I was a relatively early user of online chat, having started in the late 90s. But I know nothing of Darpa, and can safely say I've never used either the full or abbreviated form IRC. As I write, I'm put in mind of John is in hospital, which is perfectly natural in BrE, but I think most Americans would expect an article (definite or indefinite) in such contexts. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-12T20:45:58.467

@FumbleFingers +1 in hospital. Thinking back to usenet, I recall seeing chat used in this way, e.g.link, but move to IRC seems more common in the same mode: link - dating back to mid-90s.

– P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-12T21:00:27.500

in bed, in town, in chat, it's English. See why no 'the' in 'in bed'

– Alan Carmack – 2016-08-12T22:01:24.267



'The chat' with the article is an occasion, an actual conversation, or a collective noun covering the whole corpus of what has been said.

  • The chat we had on Friday night was useful
  • The storage required for the chat is growing exponentially!

'Chat', no article, usually refers to the medium not the content.

  • Please do not use chat when e-mail would be more appropriate.


Posted 2016-08-12T19:09:54.133

Reputation: 61


It should be "in the chat", but "in chat" is sometimes in the case below. The "the" is because the phase considers "chat" an object, and therefore an article is required.

"In chat" is referring to "chat" as a method of communication, but the usual preposition would be "over" for communication methods. In other words it would be more normal to say "He asked me a question over chat". "On" is also fairly common preposition, as in "He asked me a question over chat", but again this is a bit odd.

Paul Foster

Posted 2016-08-12T19:09:54.133

Reputation: 1