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

"This makes for (an) excellent conversation."


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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