One person is writing a letter to his friend ,who had recommended this trip to him, about trip and following sentence is from that letter.

We had a fantastic time in South Africa.

  • 1
    Perhaps, they didn't have two fantastic times there! :-) – Cardinal Jun 16 '20 at 6:03
  • The question title should have a definite article, and it should use inversion and a question mark: Why is the indefinite article used before adj+“time”? – phoog Jun 16 '20 at 9:29
  • "about the trip and the following sentence is from that letter." What is the alternative sentence you propose? "We had fantastic time in South Africa."? Then, your question seems to really be "why are articles used, ever?" For that, consider doing a search for: english grammar articles – Sam Jun 17 '20 at 0:46

The reason we use the indefinite article in "We had a fantastic time in South Africa" is the same reason we use the indefinite article in "We had a fantastic experience", "It was a fantastic occasion", "a fantastic trip", "a fantastic holiday/vacation".

On the other hand, we would say "we had fantastic fun" or (maybe more likely) "we had great fun". We wouldn't say "a great fun".

In some contexts, "time" (like "fun") is a mass noun (uncountable): "I wish we had more time", "we spent a lot of time on it", "we don't have time".

In other contexts, "time" (like "occasion") is a countable noun: "we'll have to do it another time", "I've been there many times", "we had a good time".

The fact that "fun" is a mass noun means that the indefinite article isn't used, whereas with "time" (when it means "occasion"/"experience") the indefinite article must be used in sentences such as "we had a fantastic time".

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