Should You Use the Article 'a' Before 'Sore throat'?

We always use the article “a” with the expression “have a sore throat”. Avoid the article when using the plural form (sore throats) in a general sense.

We always use the article “a” with the expression “have a sore throat”.

My child has a sore throat.

My child has sore throat.

Follow the same strategy with similar expressions, such as “get a sore throat”, “cause a sore throat”, “treat a sore throat”, “develop a sore throat”, etc. In some situations, you can alternatively use a possessive pronoun (my, your, etc.) or another determiner (this, that, etc.).

Anyone can get a sore throat.

Avoid the article when using the plural form (sore throats) in a general sense.

Sore throats usually get better by themselves within a week.

But include the article “the” or another determiner (some, many, most, all, those, etc.) to quantify or identify a particular group of sore throats.

Most sore throats are caused by viruses.

1. ‘Sore throat’ vs. ‘A Sore throat’

A sore throat is a symptom, not a disease. Generally, symptom names are countable and require a determiner in English.

I had two sore throats last month.

We normally add an article (a, an, the) before a singular countable noun.

Did you have a sore throat last night?

Did you have a sore throat last night?

Follow the same practice with related expressions, such as “treat a sore throat”, “get a sore throat”, “cause a sore throat”, “prevent a sore throat”, etc. That is, use an article or another determiner (my, your, his, this, that, etc.) to identify or quantify the noun.

A viral infection can cause a sore throat.

To help soothe your sore throat, you can eat cool and soft foods.

There are particular sentence structures, however, where you can omit the determiner to talk in generic terms.

Symptoms of the flu include sore throat, cough, and headache.

To mention a type or specific group of sore throats, include a determiner (those, many, some, most, all, two, three, etc.).

Some sore throats are caused by the bacteria Streptococcus.

Viruses cause many sore throats in children.

But drop the determiner to speak about this subject in a general sense.

Sore throats can be caused by viruses or bacteria.

A partial list of symptom names that also require an article or another determiner can be found below:

2. Using Articles With Strep throat and Sore Throats

While a sore a throat is a symptom, strep throat is an actual disease.

How is strep throat diagnosed?

Therefore, “strep throat” is uncountable, and we should not include an article before it.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection.

The strep throat is a bacterial infection.

You can also use “strep sore” as an adjective. In such a situation, you may need an article.

You can avoid passing the strep throat infection to others by washing your hands often.

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