Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am always unhappy when it's time for geometry class.

I am always unhappy when it's a time for geometry class.

I am always unhappy when it's the time for geometry class.

which one is correct? If the first one is correct then when do we generally use articles before noun and when we don't?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by tchrist, TimLymington, Kristina Lopez, Mitch, Robusto Apr 5 '13 at 23:53

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This is going to spark off a debate on its v/s it's. Though in this case, I believe the word its should be used. –  abhi Apr 5 '13 at 14:37
There really should be no debate over "it's" versus "its" - they have two different and clearly defined meanings. In this case "it's" should be used. "It's" is a contraction for "it is", which is the correct meaning in this case. "Its" is a possessive pronoun, which indicates something belonging to someone. –  Michael Roy Apr 5 '13 at 15:56
If you are an English learner, as appears to be the case given this type of question, you might be interested in our sister site for English Language Learners. It may prove a better fit for questions that are too simple for the current site, since they require nothing more than a native speaker, not an expert. –  tchrist Apr 5 '13 at 16:55

1 Answer 1

The first sentence is correct, but the issue of: "When do we generally use articles before noun and when we don't?" occupies whole chapters of grammar books, so it can't be answered fully here.

Basically, it depends on whether the noun functions as a count noun or uncount noun. Most nouns are either one or the other.

Computers can be counted, therefore computer is a count noun. Luck on the other hand cannot be counted (You cannot say: I had three lucks yesterday), so luck is an uncount noun.

There is a group of nouns that can be either count or uncount depending on the context. So, for example: hair meaning the hair on you head is uncount (She has nice hair) but can be counted when referring to individual hairs (Waiter, there are two hairs in my soup).

The noun time is in this group. It has several meanings, some of which function grammatically as count nouns and others as uncount nouns.

  • I have been to Japan two times. [count]
  • I don't have time to help you [uncount]
  • I hope you have a good time. [count]
  • It's time to go. [uncount]
  • You need to move with the times. [count]
  • He's doing time for murder. [uncount].

I suggest you use an online dictionary that tells you whether a noun is count or uncount in the context in which you are using it. One such dictionary is:


You can then consult one of the numerous online explanation pages such as the following to determine which article, if any, you need:


share|improve this answer
This is an over-simplification. At owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/541/03 is a more accurate treatment: The is sometimes used with uncountable nouns in the same way it is used with plural countable nouns, that is, to refer to a specific object, [mass,] group, or idea [concept]: Information is a precious commodity in our computerized world. but The information in your files is correct. Sugar has become more expensive recently. but Please pass me the sugar. The OP's third alternative is equally acceptable; indeed, his first alternative might be considered an ellipsis. –  Edwin Ashworth Apr 5 '13 at 22:20
@Edwin, Well, as alluded to in the first paragraph, this is an enormously complex area of grammar so any reply will be inevitably be an oversimplification. But in fact I did not even attempt an explanation of why I considered the first sentence the right choice. I just wanted to suggest to the questioner how he or she could go about answering such questions independently. Your comments about the use of the definite article with uncount nouns are of course correct, but I still maintain that the first sentence is the most likely. Would you say: It's time for lunch or It's the time for lunch? –  Shoe Apr 6 '13 at 7:27

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.