English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Our teacher of linguistics gave us this example:

"the beautiful girl has got a long dark hair"

and said that "beautiful" was a necessary complement, and that "long", "dark" and "hair" were modifiers. I found that illogical, and thought that the complement was rather "hair".

But in this case, if the remaining words are modifiers, and "the girl", "has got" and "hair" are necessary elements of the sentence, would the sentence

"the girl has got (a) hair"

("hair" is uncountable, isn't it?) be correct?

share|improve this question
Welcome to ELU. Perhaps you misunderstood your teacher; or perhaps he/she adheres to a novel Pickwickian linguistic sect. You are quite right. Girl is the subject/agent/(first)argument and hair the complement/direct object/patient/affected/(second)argument. Beautiful and long dark are adjectives/modifiers/adjuncts. The and a are articles/determiners. – StoneyB May 13 '13 at 16:03
I have two brothers. One is bald. The other has hair. – Matt May 13 '13 at 23:55
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Hair is a noun that can be used in a sentence with or without adjectives. I'm not sure why you would have been told otherwise. All these examples are fine:

The girl has beautiful dark hair.
The girl has dark hair.
The girl has hair.

Hair can be used both as an uncountable noun, meaning "a lot of hairs together", and as a countable noun, when referring to individual hairs.

It is grammatically correct to say that:

The beautiful girl has got a long dark hair.

... however you probably don't want to use the countable version here with an "a" article; it would mean that the girl literally has one single hair.

share|improve this answer
It's probably because I never heard such a statement, people seldom talk about simply "having hair". Thank you very much. – Ahlem Faraoun May 13 '13 at 15:07
You can also say "He has lost his hair" and other variations for someone gone bald. – TrevorD May 14 '13 at 12:58

Sure. You can say "I'm a barber. I cut hair for a living."

In most cases, however, we'd put some kind of modifier in front of hair:

Your hair is...
Long hair is...
Curly hair is...
Straight hair is...
Black hair is...

The example you say your linguistics teacher gave you is grammatically incorrect in English. It has to be either:

"The beautiful girl has got long dark hair."


"The beautiful girl has got a long dark hair {growing out of her ear / clinging to her clean white blouse [CHOOSE ONE]}."

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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