Welcome to
ESL Printables, the website where English Language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc.
Our collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions.





ESL Forum:

Techniques and methods in Language Teaching

Games, activities and teaching ideas

Grammar and Linguistics

Teaching material

Concerning worksheets

Concerning powerpoints

Concerning online exercises

Make suggestions, report errors

Ask for help

Message board


ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Could anybody help me about this please....?    

Could anybody help me about this please....?


Could anybody help me about this please....?
Dear colleague,
One of my students ask me how to use the word "COLD" with article a. But now, I am lost how to explain.
(If I were right, COLD is uncountable. So I do not use articel a)  But why is it that there are some sentences in which they use article a with cold?
For example:
         I cantch a cold easily.           or           He has a bad cold.
But there are sentences which don īt have article a.
For example:
         I hope I don īt catch cold.           or       You might catch cold.
Could anybody help me please? I badly need your help.
Thanks for your help in advance!

2 Aug 2011      

United States

I usually don īt wander into this area..but these are my thoughts off the top of my head.

"Cold" can be a sensation (uncountable - "to catch cold" "you will become cold" "It is cold") 

or it can be a sickness related to that sensation  "a cold"  (countable - i.e. "I have a cold" "He caught a cold") 

2 Aug 2011     


My explanation is that "a cold" is an article. You catch a cold. When people say "I hope I don īt catch cold" they are actually shortening the grammatically correct sentence of " I hope I don īt catch a cold". Native speakers of all languages grammatically shorten sentences, and I believe this to be just one example.

2 Aug 2011     


Your premise, that cold is uncountable, is wrong.

īCold ī is a countable noun and, as such, usually used with an article - or even in its plural form.

I can īt come today because I have a cold.
My wife has caught a bad cold.
Doctors still haven īt found a cure for the common cold.
I caught half a dozen colds last winter.
The cold is the most commonly occurring illness in the entire world, with more than 1 billion colds per year reported in the United States alone.

PS: Catch a cold = catch cold (less common: take cold or contract a cold)

2 Aug 2011     

United States

Thinking more of this last night ....Phillip is right about "cold" defined as a sickness is countable in modern usage...thus the definite article..But "cold" as a condition or sensation is not countable...you can only use the indefinite article "the"...if you are referring to it īs adjective form as in "left out in the cold"....That means the temperature outside is very low....(and in that idiom, it means a something, most likely a person, was excluded from something)...but you cannot use the definite article a cold to describe a similar circumstance. If you said,  "There was a cold outside",  it might work with poetic license, but it would be archaic and most likely be misunderstood as meaning  a "sickness".   

I think you would have to examine the etymology of the word to some extent to see the evolution of it īs usage...It makes sense, to me.  that first a word to describe the sensation or condition of the "cold" had to be derived before a word describing an illness which had symptoms of such sensations needed definition. I could be wrong.

So, in my opinion,  the word "cold" probably originates from it īs adjective form and later was utilized as a noun when it could be used as a less formal means of indicating "a flu" and that is when the use of the definite article became necessitated.

3 Aug 2011     


Thanks a lot dear colleague! It īs a big help.

Thanks to you PhilipR. I appreaciate your help. Thanks for the correction too!  Thumbs Up
Now everything is clear.
Take care everyone. See you around.

3 Aug 2011