Is the use of the indefinite article in the following sentence optional?

"This makes for (an) excellent conversation."

1 Answer 1


It's optional whether to include the indefinite article an before conversation in OP's exact context.

I can't really see much scope for a difference in meaning, nor is it obvious to me that either version is any more likely than the other. But in other contexts there could be a difference. Consider...

1: Yesterday I had conversation with Tom, Dick, and Harry.
2: Yesterday I had a conversation with Tom, Dick, and Harry.

...where in #2 the speaker is explicitly stating that he had one single conversation in which all the named people participated. But #1 could also reasonably be used if there had been several conversations, each involving one or more of those people (i.e. - the speaker could just as validly have used the plural form conversations).

Note that in my specific example, the article-less usage to have conversation with X is a relatively formal/dated construction (we'd more likely use to engage in conversation with X today). I don't think that nuance really applies to OP's context, so the only real difference is that article-less This makes for interesting conversation might in some circumstances imply multiple conversations (perhaps significantly different types of conversation), whereas including the article implies a single conversation (or feasibly, multiple conversations of a very similar nature).

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