I have enrolled to an ESOL class in Wellington, New Zealand.

My teacher taught me that article should precede with adjective always. For example -

  1. My country has three seasons - winter, summer, and rainy season.

She corrected to

  1. My country has three seasons - winter, summer, and a rainy season.

Reasoning - She told that rainy is like an adjective so this should have an article before it.

  1. He is tall person.

> correct

  1. He is a tall person.

Logic - 'a' article because we can count the person. - 'the' article if we say the tallest -superlative degree.

Can I take these rules?

  • 2
    In 2. the article has to do with the noun, not the adjective. Without the adjective, "He is a person" is OK, but "He is person" is incorrect. Of course the article goes before the adjective modifier.
    – user3169
    Jun 17, 2016 at 2:40
  • @User3169 Really? how about? 'This is cool weather,' 'It is dirty money,' 'This is great chance for all of you' Nov 14, 2016 at 10:43
  • 1
    Both "weather" and "money" are uncountable nouns, @SovereignSun, so they work well without articles. "Chance" is a countable noun, so your last sentence should read "this is a great chance for all of you". Nov 14, 2016 at 14:39
  • @GaryBotnovcan I agree. Though I often see people rarely place an article before the word 'chance' when an adjective precedes it. As for the uncountables, I know the rule perfectly well, thank you. I wanted "user3169" to answer, he said 'Of course the article goes before the adjective modifier'. Nov 14, 2016 at 14:45
  • @SovereignSun: a native English speaker would never say "This is great chance for all of you." Come to that, a native English speaker would never say "I often see people rarely..."
    – TonyK
    Nov 14, 2016 at 22:25

3 Answers 3


Most EFL/ESL teachers cannot explain article usage, so they often make up reasons on the spot, or they give out oversimplified "rules". This teacher might have just thought the sentence sounded better with a. However,

My country has three seasons - winter, summer, and rainy season.

is fine as it is. I would probably not use a here, since it is indefinite but we're talking about a definite season that comes each year. We're not talking about one (a) rainy season out of many possible rainy seasons. That's the most important part.

In addition, the phrase rainy season without an article acts as sort of a name, just like winter and summer, and we wouldn't put a before winter or summer here. So it would be something like

There are three people in class: John, Mary, and tall person.

If we want to talk about tall person as one among many, we would use a tall person. In the less likely case that tall person is actually the nickname of the third person, we wouldn't use a. This is sort of how rainy season works in your sentence, as the name of the third season.

It's also an extreme oversimplification that we use the with superlatives. We can, but a is also possible:

That was a most wonderful cake, Sammy, thanks for cooking it.

In general, ESL/EFL teachers have to give out some sort of rules as s starting point to learn article usage, but unfortunately these rules are usually way oversimplified and rarely, if ever, cover all uses of articles. And so articles remain troublesome for many learners for years and years. But one thing to do is not trust any list of simple rules about article usage. No one has ever come up with an explanation that describes all usages of the articles in English.


Academically speaking, your teacher is absolutely right. The article here is referring to the noun 'season'. So you have 'a season' that it 'rainy'

Your sentence should be either:

  • My country has three seasons - winter, summer, and a rainy season.


  • My country has three seasons - winter, summer, and Rainy Season.

In the second sentence you use "Rainy Season" as a name for a season.

You cannot say, "He is tall person." If we leave out the adjective it is "He is person," which is improper English. You say, "He is a person" which is correct and then, "He is a tall person," - a what kind of person? A tall one!

You don't place articles before uncountables like: money, weather, water, sugar, e.t.c.

  • We had good weather yesterday - not 'a good weather'.
  • Clean water is healthy - not 'A clean water'.

You do not place an article before adjectives that precede titles and names in examples like:

  • That women is beautiful Lady Winter.
  • He is mighty Sir Nicolas.

Your teacher is generally correct, but with English there are always exceptions, so it will depend on the sentence and the context.

Your teacher is correct with the examples you have presented.

Also acceptable might be

My country has three seasons: winter, summer, and the rainy season.

you can use "the" if there is one rainy season and it would give emphasis to rainy season.

My country has three seasons: winter, summer, and rainy.

would also be correct if "rainy" is the proper name of one of your seasons.

Also acceptable would be

My country has three seasons: a wet, a dry, and a cold season.
My country has three seasons: wet, dry, and cold seasons.

In terms of countable and uncountable

He is a tall person.
She is a pretty girl.

They are tall people.
They are all tall people.

With the superlative -est, since there is only one

He is the tallest person.
She is the prettiest girl.

However, there is also

He is of Chinese origin.
They are of African origin.

where an article is not used.

  • You should mention how season names (Spring, Summer, etc.) are handled, as they was in the examples given.
    – user3169
    Jun 17, 2016 at 2:38
  • *were You're referring to the third person plural Jul 17, 2016 at 5:36
  • Yes, "They are tall people"="They are tall", "They are of African origin"="They are Africans".
    – Peter
    Jul 17, 2016 at 13:27
  • 1
    @Peter Seasons are never capitalized in English as far as I know. Nov 15, 2016 at 8:30

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