Why can't I say, "I have a brown hair," to describe the colour of my hair?

  • My Czech friend always says "hairs". It's never plural. – JoJo Mar 31 '11 at 6:29
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    I have a brown hair. The rest are white. – Hot Licks Apr 3 '16 at 15:41

When describing the hair on one's head, the noun hair takes on a collective sense, i.e. hair is treated as uncountable. Thus, the correct way to describe your hair (presumably that on your head) color is:

I have brown hair.

However, hair is also a countable noun, e.g. "Who knows the number of hairs on their head?" Hence,

I have a brown hair

is also perfectly valid, but it would usually imply that that a particular brown hair is special—perhaps one in a billion black hairs, or something of the sort.

  • @nicholas: I believe there is a checkbox outline to the left of the answer. Clicking this should mark it as accepted. – Jimi Oke Mar 30 '11 at 6:55
  • @Jimi Oke - the upward facing arrow? It asks me to register... – nicholas ainsworth Mar 30 '11 at 6:58
  • @nicholas: No, the upward facing arrow is for upvoting, which, apparently, you can't do. I am yet to ask any questions on this site, but the FAQ says there's the outline a checkbox (presumably rectangular) to the left of the answer (I'm guessing to the left of the score, i.e. votes, or below the downward-facing arrow). I can't see the box, but you should be able to see it, since you asked the question. If the box is visible to you, you should be able to click on it. Doing so will mark the question as accepted. The box would probably turn green, or you should see a green checkmark. – Jimi Oke Mar 30 '11 at 7:05
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    Yes! I've found it! Thanks - and sorry to everybody for appearing to be miserly...I'll try and use it as much as possible from now on. – nicholas ainsworth Mar 30 '11 at 7:19
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    "I have a brown hair" sounds rare indeed, but "I have a gray hair" is not so uncommon. – J.R. May 26 '12 at 21:08

***Normally when you say one's hair you mean not just one but a mass, certainly thousands of hairs in one's head. That's why it should sound more appropriate to use hair as an uncountable noun without indefinite article. you can say: I have brown hair, but if you say I have a brown hair, the reader or listener is more likely to understand that you have one hair which is brown among a mass of black hairs.

  • This is a good explanation, but without a reference, it looks just like an opinion. – Davo Mar 31 '20 at 12:32

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