I was looking the definition of temperature in Merriam-Webster. In count noun section, I noticed a sentence with no article before "temperature".

If a noun is countable, we must use an article (a or the) before it. Is this rule inconsistent?

The sentence is as follows:

There was a sudden fall/drop in temperature.

A screenshot is below. Look at the second to last example.

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


Words denoting measureable quantities can usually be used as uncountable in some contexts.

One such context is after in, as a prepositional phrase qualifying another phrase to specify the property:

a drop in temperature

an increase in size

decreased in number

small in area

great in value


First, in

A drop in temperature

it's actually noun drop what is modified, not temperature.

Second, IANAL (I'm not a linguist), but, unlike many other languages, you are generally required to define any common noun, this is how English works, and this is consistent. Using no article is just a syntax which English uses to define nouns in certain ways. E.g., one uses no article with a non-count noun to indicate a thing not known before (where the indefinite article would be used for singular count noun) or referring to the thing in general.

  • 1
    That's fine, but "temperature" is still a noun. Why doesn't it have an article?
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 27, 2020 at 22:10

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