The word "cold' is a mass noun, meaning that it's uncountable noun. We cannot count cold as we cannon count hot. Nevertheless, we find a usage of "to catch a cold" using of an article before the mass noun "cold".

What is the explanation for that?

  • 1
    Checking some actual usage examples would have helped you understand this. Or at least should have been added to your question. You are making the assumption that cold only has one meaning.
    – user3169
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


It's not uncountable in the case where it's referring to the illness.

I caught a cold last week.

This winter I've had three colds.


The noun cold has two basic meanings :

cold noun (ILLNESS) Countable

a common infection, especially in the nose and throat, that often causes a cough, a slight fever, etc.

She caught a cold at school.

cold noun (LOW TEMPERATURE)Singular or Uncountable

cold weather or temperatures:

Don't stand out there in the cold, come in here and get warm. My feet were numb with cold.

Thus, in your example it is a countable noun.

  • Isn't "coldness" the noun for the meaning "low temperature", with "cold" the adjectival form?
    – MMacD
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 20:58

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