What is your favorite Halloween character?

My favorite Halloween character is a snake.


My favorite Halloween character is the snake.

Which is correct


If I was judging a costume contest, the would say "the snake," assuming there is only one in the line up. Or if I were speaking of a costume I might wear I'd say "a snake" because it is the class of snakes that is favorite not an individual snake.

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  • Anita, isn't "the" denotes a class of animals like we say "the wild donkey is ..."? so if I want to speak of a class I would say "the" not "a". why what I am saying is not correct? – Gamal Thomas Nov 28 '18 at 11:51

The secular holiday Halloween doesn't really have any established "characters" in the way that Christmas has Santa Claus (and various others, depending on the country). Instead children and adults dress up in costumes.

So you can say something like:

My favorite Halloween costume is to dress up as a snake.

The definite article "the" implies either something that is already known to the listener, or something which you have previously mentioned. Neither of these make sense in this context.

An example where it would make sense:

I was born in the Chinese Year of the Snake.

Or suppose you saw a group of children all dressed up, and your friend asks which you liked best. You could answer:

Of all the children's costumes, my favorite was the snake.

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Warning: This 'answer' is intended more to discuss the grammar involved rather than provide a definitive explanation. Let's take a look this in a little detail.

I feel that the construction My favorite Noun1(singular) is <countable>Noun2 can be somewhat problematic. This may be something to do with whether it is a countable noun or an uncountable noun. It could be that it is better to just rephrase it (as another user suggested in an answer). But for the sake of curiosity, I will mark the following sentences with an 'X' if I feel it is unnatural and with an 'O' if I think it is acceptable. I'd be interested to see whether other native speakers agree.

My favorite animal is dog. X

My favorite animal is a dog. X

My favorite animal is the dog. O

My favorite animal is dogs. O

My favorite animal is the dogs. X

According to that pattern, your example would be:

My favorite Halloween character is the snake.
My favorite Halloween character is snakes.

Both of these sound acceptable to me. But again, I'd be interested to hear from other native speakers on this.

On the other hand, if we look at other examples...

My favorite food is the pizza. Acceptable but sounds a little strange to me
My favorite food is pizza. O
My favorite food is pizzas. X

I suspect this is a countable/uncountable issue. For uncountable nouns, the construction My favorite Noun1(singular) is Noun2 doesn't seem to present an issue. But it does create confusion when Noun2 is countable. Opinions welcome.

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