Why "the same"?

Test No. [color=blue]incompl/inter-55 “Hear my Story”, question 2

I’m afraid it was the old story with her all over again because she’s started arriving late at work again.

(a) same
(b) like
© similar
(d) parallel

Test No. [color=blue]incompl/inter-55 “Hear my Story”, answer 2

I’m afraid it was the same old story with her all over again because she’s started arriving late at work again.

Correct answer: (a) same

Hi everybody! Explain , please. Why you use "the same’. I think “similar” is fitted too.

Many thanks
Schoolboy

Dear Schoolboy,

You’ll probably agree that there is quite a difference between ‘the same old story’ and ‘a similar story’.
As you know the English is language is full of idiomatic expressions - ‘the same old story’ is one of them.
Idomatic expressions are fixed - you cannot change them.
Here is the sentence you are referring to:

I’m afraid it was the same old story with her all over again because she’s started arriving late at work again.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Breaking the rock[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Schoolboy,

Just to add to what Torsten has already written. I believe you want to write: ‘the similar old story’. Clearly this doesn’t work because the article ‘the’ defines the story and therefore indicates that it is exactly THE SAME, in other words it hasn’t changed from what it was before. If you say: ‘a similar old story’ which is not in fact the idiom (the same old story) you are indicating that it has a similarity with what has happened before but it is not EXACTLY THE SAME.

Alan

Hi Alan and Torsten! Thank you for your help.

Schoolboy