Page 1 of 1

Stomach ache causes headache!

PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:53 pm
by Wurd Smiff
In conversation with my tutor in college today, I used a sentence thus. "I have a stomach ache". She insisted that one can only have "stomach ache”: one cannot have "a stomach ache". Is that true?

Re: Stomach ache causes headache!

PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:58 pm
by prof
Did you ask your teacher why you can have 'a headache'?

Actually you can have 'a stomach ache' or 'stomachache'. Some types of pain go with or without the indefinite article. For instance you have 'earache' but not usually 'an ear ache'. Also you almost never have 'a tooth ache', but always simply 'toothache'.

Basically, if you split the expression into two words, you must use the article. When it is one word, you sometimes use the article, and sometimes do not. (As with 'a headache' and 'toothache'.) However, you can use either 'stomachache' or 'a stomach ache'.