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  1. #1
    Augustine06's Avatar
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    She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    Dear Teachers,

    Could you please clarify if there are any circumstances when it can be considered to be grammatically correct to use an indefinite article with "hair" when describing someone's hair? As in:

    - She has a long, shining, brown hair.

    Or

    - The girl had a bushy blond hair and a pale skin.

    Or

    She had a thick, bushy black hair that all the girls in her class envied. (A friend of mine, a native English speaker, says that in contexts like this, when you elaborate on the description of one's hair, it's possible to put an indefinite article before it, and it would be grammatically okay).

    Here is a quote from a book I've found while googling for some answers:
    "A seaman with a bushy hair rose from a nearby table" (from "Saga of the Red Viking" by Mika Ahlfors).
    What is this? A mistake made by a non-native English speaker or is it actually correct?

    Could you please explain this to me?

    Thanks a lot in advance!

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    If she really only does have a single strand of hair, then the article makes sense. Most people have tens of thousands of strands of hair.

  3. #3
    Augustine06's Avatar
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    Thank you, Tdol!

    What about all those examples I wrote above?

  4. #4
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    Quote Originally Posted by Augustine06 View Post
    Thank you, Tdol!

    What about all those examples I wrote above?
    None of them are possible, including the Viking one.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. #5
    Augustine06's Avatar
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    I've got another sentence here. What do you think about it?

    She had beautiful blue eyes and a lush black hair most girls would kill for. Does it sound natural with an "a" there?

  6. #6
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    No. We simply don't say that someone has "a [adjective] hair".

    She has black hair.
    She has bushy, black hair.
    He has sparse, blond hair.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  7. #7
    Skrej's Avatar
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    The only context the article might possibly work is if for some reason you wanted to describe a single strand of hair that was different in color from the rest of the person's hair.

    "He had a dark black hair which stood out from his otherwise wavy blonde locks."

    It would be very UNusual to do so, however, as you're not very likely to even notice such a single strand.
    Last edited by Skrej; 08-Aug-2017 at 21:26. Reason: edit typo
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  8. #8
    Augustine06's Avatar
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    Thank you, emsr2d2!

    Just one final question: can it be one of those BrE vs. AmE situations? A friend of mine is an AmE speaker and he says that it's natural and normal to put an "a" in the contexts I wrote above. I was taught that indefinite article can't be used with "hair" when describing the whole mass of hair on one's head, but Google shows a lot of examples where people use it. To me it looks like most of them are not native English speakers, but maybe it's just an AmE thing? What do you think?
    Thanks for your help again!

  9. #9
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    Quote Originally Posted by Augustine06 View Post
    Just one final question: can it be one of those BrE vs. AmE situations? A friend of mine is an AmE speaker and he says that it's natural and normal to put an "a" in the contexts I wrote above. I was taught that indefinite article can't be used with "hair" when describing the whole mass of hair on one's head, but Google shows a lot of examples where people use it. To me it looks like most of them are not native English speakers, but maybe it's just an AmE thing? What do you think?
    I'm an AmE speaker. The article is extremely unnatural.
    I am not a teacher.

  10. #10
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    Re: She has long, brown hair / She has A long, brown hair

    Thank you so much, Skrej!

    Well, it seems you've just answered my question about BrE vs. AmE

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