Simple Is Best vs Simple Is the Best (Correct Phrase)

When it comes to writing, you can say things in many different ways—particularly when using common phrases.

For example, Which is the correct phrase to use: Simple is best vs Simple is the best?

Both “simple is best” and “simple is the best” are grammatically correct phrases. Use “simple is best” in informal communication, such as conversation among friends, text messages, and social media posts. Use “simple is the best” in communication where the priority is clarity and accuracy.

It can be tricky to know which one to use, but there are a few things you can keep in mind that will help you choose the correct phrase for your specific situation.

In this article, we’ll look at the difference between the two statements so that you use the correct phrase every time.

Simple Is Best vs Simple Is the Best: Which Phrase Is Correct?

Both phrases are technically correct, but they have different implications. There may be cases where you may use either and still get your point across. The more commonly used one is, “simple is best.”

However, the most clear phrase is “simple is the best.”

That’s because it refers to the superlative degree in grammar rules. This degree helps one or more entities stand out among many.

In this phrase, the article “the” comes right before the superlative word “best,” making it stand out.

Including both words makes the entire sentence superlative. It may not sound natural for psychological reasons, but it is grammatically more accurate.

Your English teacher will be impressed. 🙂

On the other hand, “simple is best” is an idiomatic phrase or a token of speech.

That means it’s a set phrase that doesn’t highlight a literal definition. When using these phrases, you usually don’t change the words around.


Because altering the phrase:

  • Changes the meaning or connotation
  • Doesn’t roll off the tongue as well

Idiomatic phrases are also nuanced. Using them often implies a feeling or emotion that goes beyond the dictionary definition.

For example, “Time heals all wounds.”

In this idiomatic phrase, time doesn’t literally heal anything.

Instead, it means that with time people tend to forget about arguments or problems and eventually move on. Therefore, “simple is best” adds a pragmatic wink to the idea that you are using a concept familiar to you and the listener.

Here is a good video that quickly covers the most important information about these two phrases:

YouTube video by Writing Secrets—Simple Is Best vs Simple Is the Best

Simple Is the Best: Why Is the Phrase Correct?

The phrase “simple is the best” is usually appropriate for formal communication, such as emails, reports, essays, and other professional contexts.

The main reason is that it’s more than a token or add-on of your language.

Objectively, adding “the” to the sentence means it’s no longer just simple wisdom but more of an actual measurement tool.

That is why the sentence, “When it comes to logo choices for companies, simple is the best” is a fact. It’s an objective statement that can get measured. On the other hand, “Time heals all wounds” is not a fact because you can’t measure time healing anything.

Nuances in sentences do not always determine the utility of a language.

Catchy phrases focus more on how we use words to express ourselves than technical correctness. It essentially is about whether you want accuracy or not.

The next time you run into one of these phrases, think about:

  • What the phrase is trying to say.
  • The context of your communication (formal or informal).
  • The goal of your message (emotion or information).

If you’re asking yourself, “What are the 3 best ways to generate ideas for a writing project?“, you’re probably working on a school essay.

In this case, “Simple is the best” is likely the right choice.

What Is the Difference Between “Simple Is Best” and “Simple Is the Best?

At a quick glance at both sentences, you can point out the article “the” as the main differentiator. Technically, yes, it is what makes the two sentences different.

However, there is more to it than that.

On one hand, “the” makes the sentence sound more like an actual verifiable fact. It also implies that you are measuring the best of something against other options.

If we go with “simple is best,” the lack of “the” makes the sentence an idiom, which is more about feeling and the sound of language, than specific information sharing.

You can also argue that “the” makes the sentence somewhat technical and unnatural, while the other sentence (Simple is best) is a little warmer and easier to say.

If you want to sound more like a casual native speaker, “Simple is best” is what you should use. But keep in mind, it’s not the most formal way to say the phrase.

Here is a chart that goes over the main differences between the two phrases:

Simple Is BestSimple Is the Best
IdiomInformational statement
Wisdom, experience, emotionClear comparison
Use for reflective expressionUse for language accuracy
Chart: Simple Is Best vs Simple Is the Best

What Does Simple Is Best Mean?

The phrase “simple is best” is an idiomatic expression that carries the meaning that less is more. In other words, it often gets used when you want to say that a less complicated solution is better than a more complicated one.

However, it emphasizes the word “best,” with “simple” being an adjective.

That makes it sound more elegant than “simple is the best,” which carries a more technical and rigid tone.

Additionally, the phrase reflects more on acquired wisdom and only seeks a nod in agreement. It’s less pragmatic and more about general life experience.

Here are a few examples:

  • Everyone wants a simple life. Simple is best.
  • Don’t complicate things. Simple is best.
  • I love my recipe shot and PDF format. Simple is best.

These sentences all seek agreement from the listener. It’s a way to nod your head to a familiar sentiment instead of stating an objective fact. They do not look for measurement and accuracy but rather for a general feeling.

In other words, it might not be true that simplicity is best in all cases.

However, it assumes the listener shares the same sentiment, so no further proof is needed.

What Does Simple Is the Best Mean?

The phrase “simple is the best” is the more precise way of saying that less is more. It implies that you are measuring the best against other options.

Additionally, it reflects on specific comparisons rather than acquired wisdom.

It’s a more technical way of looking at things and often seeks to provoke agreement through logic instead of general life experience. However, it can sound unnatural and technical to some people.

It can also describe situations where a straightforward approach works better than a convoluted one.

Here are a few examples:

  • We need to take a step back and look at this from a different perspective. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best one.
  • Human resource managers often seek individuals with good presentations when looking for qualified candidates. So, remember it’s not always about sophisticated presentation. Simple is the best route.

These sentences aim for assessment and exactness.

They use “simple” as a tool to judge different options and find the best one for the situation. In other words, they state simplicity works better than complication in highly specific cases.

Final Thoughts: Simple Is Best vs Simple Is the Best

Ultimately, it is acceptable to use either of these phrases.

The main difference lies in how meticulous and formally you want to communicate. Remember, the safest choice is what sounds right to native speakers. In this case, that’s, “Simple is best.”

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Frontiers in Communication (Research Article)