It’s “have a cold”. When referring to a mild, very common illness, the noun cold is countable, and its singular form needs an article.
It’s “have a cold”. When referring to a mild, very common illness, the noun cold is countable, and its singular form requires an article.
Alice has a cold.
Alice has cold.
Include also an article (a, an, the) or another determiner (some, most, many, several, etc.) to quantify or identify a specific group of colds.
Many colds are caused by rhinoviruses.
Omit the article if the plural form (colds) is used in a general sense.
Colds usually go away on their own.
1. The expression Have a Cold
When describing a common infection that causes you to cough or sneeze, the noun cold is countable in English.
Did you know that you can have two colds at the same time?
You can have two colds at once when two germs cause infections at the same time.
With singular countable nouns, we need an article.
I might have a cold.
My brother caught a cold at school.
When using an adjective to describe the noun, add the article in front of the adjective (e.g., a bad cold, a nasty cold, a chest cold, a slight cold, the common cold, etc.)
My child is at home with a bad cold.
The common cold is a viral infection of your upper respiratory tract.
Follow the same strategy with other related expressions, such as “catch a cold”, “get a cold”, “suffer from a cold”, etc.
My girlfriend caught a cold and had to miss the party.
When talking about a specific group of colds, we always include a determiner (some, many, most, those, several, two, three, etc.)
Some colds may last as long as three weeks.
Most colds are caused by viruses.
But drop the determiner when using “colds” in a general sense.
Colds commonly take a few days to fully develop.
A list of other names of symptoms and conditions that typically require a/an can be found below:
- Backache (The article can be omitted in British English.)
- Cramp/Muscle Cramp (The article can be omitted in British English.)
- Earache (The article can be omitted in British English.)
- Fever (The article can be omitted in British English.)
- Heart attack
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Stomachache (The article can be omitted in British English.)
- Toothache (The article can be omitted in British English.)
2. Can I say ‘I am having a cold’?
“I’m having a cold” is incorrect. When we speak about diseases, the verb “have” cannot be used in the continuous tense.
My sister has a cold.
My sister is having a cold.
But you can use the continuous tense or gerund with other related verbs and expressions, like “suffer from a cold”, “experience a cold”, “recover from a cold”, “fight off a cold”, etc.
Are you suffering from a cold?
Good nutrition is essential for recovering from a cold.
There is an exception to this practice of not using the continuous tense of the verb “have” with diseases. This construction can work with the plural form (colds) to discuss a frequency reading.
She has been having many colds.
My child was having nasty colds frequently.
3. Is the Phrase ‘I Have got a Cold’ Correct?
“I have got a cold” is grammatically correct but doesn’t sound right in English. With this particular expression, we always use contractions (the short forms “I’ve got”, “he’s got”, etc.) where possible.
I think I’ve got a cold.
She's got a cold and doesn’t want to go to school.
Since “I’ve got” simply means “I have”, both can be used interchangeably.
I’ve got a cold.
I have a cold.