More often one thing happens to us, that is, your throat is sore. So we may say "I have a sore throat". But somebody also say "I have sore throat." So the article "a" here is necessary or not? If necessary, why?


3 Answers 3


I have a sore throat.

is of course correct.


I have sore throat.

follows the same logic as

I have mumps, I have measles, I have oral thrush, I have mad cow disease.

and is fine. "Sore throat" can be considered a compound word that describes an aliment like the above words, and saying I have {disease-condition} is common and accepted. It's not going to appear in any medical dictionary as a unique disease but is certainly a common symptom or condition that people call off of work or school for.

The reason one might tend to say it this way is if one needs to care about "sore throat" as a distinct trait, such as a physician listing symptoms to see if a greater disease is in play.

  • Interesting take on describing it as a potential proper noun. I don't think that usage is common in American English, but it seems reasonable a reasonable way to do it.
    – Harris
    Nov 1, 2016 at 14:03

It really depends on the context.

Compare the different situations here:

Symptoms of the common cold include sore throat, stuffy nose, and headache.

I have a sore throat.

In the first, the symptoms are spoken of in abstract, generic terms. In the second, a speaker is complaining about the soreness in his own throat.

I have a sore throat = my throat is sore.

I have sore throat and ringing in the ears = the symptoms of my malady include soreness of the throat and a ringing in the ears.

For example, a small child would tell her mother:

"Mommy, I have a sore throat and my tummy hurts"


"Mommy, my symptoms include sore throat and abdominal distress".

and not

"Mommy, I have sore throat and painful tummy".


You could say "I have a sore throat" or "my throat is sore". you could not say "i have sore throat" because sore throat is not an actual disease or the name of an infection. You could say "i have Strep Throat", because that is a diagnosis, but since a sore throat is just an indicator/symptom of an infection, it needs the indefinite article "a".

  • thank you for your reply. So is it the same case with "I have a cold./I catch a cold. "? or same as "I have a headache"?
    – Vince
    Nov 1, 2016 at 8:29
  • do you have some main principles about how to use the article "a" when it is connected with countable nouns?
    – Vince
    Nov 1, 2016 at 8:36
  • @Vince, yes this is the same for having a cold, having a headache. Here is an article regarding articles with countable nouns, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/541/03
    – Meg
    Nov 1, 2016 at 8:49
  • this is a qwote from the article that i found helpful, in case you cannot access it.
    – Meg
    Nov 1, 2016 at 8:50
  • A countable noun always takes either the indefinite (a, an) or definite (the) article when it is singular. When plural, it takes the definite article if it refers to a definite, specific group and no article if it is used in a general sense.
    – Meg
    Nov 1, 2016 at 8:51

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