Find the mistake .. :

We said we were discussing certain matter then.

so what about this answer:

We said we were discussing a certain matter then.

do you think the question is wrong and there's no mistakes in the sentence? and what about the answer?

  • 4
    There is a mistake and your answer corrects it. – Jim Apr 26 '15 at 3:57
  • 1
    Of course, if one were talking about theoretical dark matter, it could be termed "uncertain matter". Then ordinary (baryonic) matter would be "certain matter", and in that case the first sentence could be correct. @Jim is corect, though, in any likely circumstance: the singular "matter" requires an article. – DrMoishe Pippik Apr 26 '15 at 4:18
  • @DrMoishePippik- Nice! – Jim Apr 26 '15 at 4:21
  • Although it may not be technically a mistake, I find the dangling "then" to be awkward and possibly ambiguous. – xtempore Apr 26 '15 at 6:07
  • What @xtempore said. DrMoishe's point about the possibility of using matter to mean type of matter is valid, but highly unlikely/contrived, and it probably can't be avoided in the context of a question about discuss a [certain] matter. But as a general principle, example sentences shouldn't include anything irrelevant to the specific usage being queried. It would have been much better to just ask about We discussed a certain matter. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 26 '15 at 12:18

We said we were discussing (a) certain matter then.

The sentence with/without the indefinite article "a" before the word "matter" is grammatically correct, depending on the sense the word matter is used. "Matter" is used both as a countable noun and uncountable noun. When you use it as a countable noun to refer to a situation or subject someone needs to deal with, you should use "a" before it.

On the other hand, when you use "matter" as an uncountable noun in the sense of substance, material, it doesn't need "a" before it such as we discussed certain printing matter.

  • Do you have a resource? – user37421 Apr 26 '15 at 10:47
  • user 37421, Please look up the word matter in any dictionary. – Khan Apr 26 '15 at 16:49
  • simple.wiktionary.org/wiki/matter (uncountable) Matter is the stuff that everything is made of. As you said .. so it's not possible that they are discussing matter. do you have any other ideas? – user37421 Apr 26 '15 at 21:32

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