Simple is Best or Simple is the Best? Which is correct?

Both “simple is best” and “simple is the best” are correct. “Simple is best” is more common when you a describing a situation where the simple option is preferred. 

Idiomatic speech is so nuanced that using it correctly often implies feeling your way through what you are trying to express. This is the approach necessary for choosing between “simple is best,” and “simple is the best.”

We will approach both as stand-alone sentences or at least independent clauses in a sentence as the sentence “simple is the best approach to consider” does not have an equivalent use without the “the.”

The Balanced Phrase

When using the phrase “simple is best,” it is often with a pragmatic wink to the idea that the speaker is using a determining factor that is both known to the listener as well as an ethic that both will share for simpler lives.

When it comes to decorating for winter, I’ve always found that simple is best.

My wife went shopping for clothes for our children and remembered her mother’s sage advice. Simple is best.

After all of the Christmas presents for our dog, she only wanted to play with the box and the wrapping. I guess what they say is true about dogs; simple is best.

This approach is probably preferable in these situations because it takes what is normally an adjective and translates it into a noun, separating both adjectives by a simple verb. Like an old see-saw, it has a satisfying balance of weight on both sides and comes across as wise.

The Objective Phrase

Oddly, when a phrase goes from idiomatic to pragmatic then its use is less in a smile and nod at the simple wisdom and more an actual weight for what thing is better.

Adding one simple “the” to the phrase unbalances the phrase and takes it from idiom to measurement tool.

When it comes to computer choices for art students, simple is the best.

Although you could spend hundreds of dollars on your holiday decorations, it has been demonstrated by our homeowner’s association this year that simple is the best.

Often when looking at qualifiers for major competitions, judges are looking for quality they can perform well. So, remember you can plan a complicated routine. But simple is the best.

Nuance does not always play a part in determining utility for language. Sometimes it is as easy as choosing the word that communicates more directly everything that a person is trying to say.

Occasionally these nuances need to be practiced to be mastered. Make certain to not overthink it. As always, simple is the best.

Read about the difference between simple and easy here.