An Online Catalogue of English Grammar Exercises

Talking about your health: Zero article (0), or 'a' or 'the'. (see also 'have got' in this section)

Lots of things don´t need ´the´or ´a´.
For example, if you are talking about your body, you say ´my´ e.g. "My hair needs cutting" but when you are talking about being ill, you say

"I´ve got
a headache
a backache or a bad back
a stomach ache or just ´stomach ache´ ´
a cold
a pain in my foot, finger, etc.
a broken arm or leg,
a sore throat".

Try it! Is it 'the' or 'a' or 'my' or (0) nothing?

Last night I had (1).. headache and (2).. sore throat. My mother thought I had (3).. flu*. (4).... back ached and (5).. skin was sensitive and (6).. eyes were running. My mother put a thermometer under (7).. tongue, then she felt (9).. forehead and looked down (10).. throat. It was very red.

"You´ve got (11).. cold", she said. "I must ring (12).. doctor".

She didn't know I had an exam the next day! I didn't tell her I had heated the thermometer deliberately!!
( *´flu or influenza is an exception to the rule!)

Answers: 1.a  2.a  3.0  11.a 1 2.the

See The A - Z of English Grammar & Usage for the rules.

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