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The Flu and a Cold

Why does “flu” get “the”, while “cold” gets “a”? It appears that you never say “a flu”.

Here is a good example.

  • January 19, 2004
  • Posted by Dyske
  • Filed in Usage

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"The Flu" refers to a specific disease, which is Influenza.

"A Cold" refers to one of a group of diseases which cause coughing, runny noses, etc. They are all "colds"; if you have one, you don't have "the cold" (the one and only Cold) you just have "a cold".

jeremiah January 21, 2004, 9:34am

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Ah, but why do you have "the" disease at all? You don't get a cholera or the cholera. Just cholera.

Patrik October 30, 2004, 4:48am

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Then why don't you say, "the Influenza"?
Also, Influenza is also a goup of diseases.

henkvdm October 13, 2005, 9:11am

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Yes     No