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  1. cnjackie88's Avatar
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    #1

    Smile A question about the article "a"

    Hi guys, long time no see. I have a question about the application of articile "a".
    Before some words about illness, such as "headache","toothache","stomochache","cold", when should I put "a" before it?
    I also found there are some differences between british English and American English. Who can help to explain this to me in a very clear and fast way.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by cnjackie88 View Post
    Hi guys. Long time no see.

    I have a question about the application use of the articile article "a".

    Before With regard to some words about illness, such as "headache", space after a comma "toothache", space after a comma "stomach space here ache", space after a comma "cold", when should I put "a" before it them?

    I also found there are some differences between British English and American English. Who can help to explain this to me in a very clear and fast way?
    The simplest answer is that you will rarely be wrong if you use the indefinite article before the ailment if you're talking about someone suffering from it.

    I have a headache.
    She has a cold.
    I had a stomach ache yesterday. (Note that "stomach ache" is two words - don't ask me why!)

    There are two common exceptions to this in BrE:
    I've got toothache.
    She has flu/She has the flu.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #3

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Cancer is usually used without the indefinite article.

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    #4

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Cancer is usually used without the indefinite article.
    In the movie The Shootist, John Wayne's character frequently says "I have a cancer." The writers included this bit of antiquated usage intentionally as a way of placing the action in a past era.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 06-Jul-2020 at 17:46. Reason: Add a missing word.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. probus's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post

    There are two common exceptions to this in BrE:
    I've got toothache.
    She has flu/She has the flu.
    The toothache exception does not exist or is vanishingly rare in AmE. As for influenza one can hear any of "the flu", "a flu", or just plain "flu".

  6. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Cancer is usually used without the indefinite article.
    That is true. I was using ailments/illnesses (as in one-off occasional occurrences of relatively short duration) rather than longer-term diseases. Those almost always take no article.

    I have cancer.
    She has diabetes.
    My aunt has hypothyroidism.
    They had polio.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #7

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    The toothache exception does not exist or is vanishingly rare in AmE. As for influenza one can hear any of "the flu", "a flu", or just plain "flu".
    I have never heard/used "a flu". (AmE)

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    #8

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Nor have I (BrE)
    Last edited by PeterCW; 07-Jul-2020 at 11:33. Reason: typo
    Retired magazine editor and native British English speaker - not a teacher

  9. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #9

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    In the movie The Shootist, John Wayne's character frequently says "I have a cancer." The writers included this bit of antiquated usage intentionally as a way of placing the action in a past era.
    The usage exists, but it is far more common without the article. We do, however, say that we have a tumour.

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    #10

    Re: A question about the article "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    The usage exists, but it is far more common without the article. We do, however, say that we have a tumour.
    In American English, the article is required with "tumor" and never used with "cancer".
    I am not a teacher.

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