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I'm just curious to know, why do we say "I am in a good mood" not "I am in good mood"? Is there any grammatical rule for that?

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Folks are discussing "a good mood" versus "good spirits" and I think that points to the answer. It's the fact that 'spirits' is plural.

It's the same as "I'm with a good friend" versus "I'm with good friends".

  • Sure, but that doesn't really explain why we say in a good mood as opposed to in good mood. (Cf. in good company, in good standing, in good time, in good conscience, in good condition, in good stead.) – ruakh Apr 18 '16 at 14:14
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I believe the reason why one uses the determiner 'a' is without it your sentence becomes grammatically incorrect. In the phrase 'in good spirits' one uses the undetermined plural which in English doesn't have an article. In other words the sense of the phrase can be rewritten as 'in any good spirits', not 'in certain good spirits'. This the same reason why you say 'in a good mood', not 'in the good mood'. 'In fine fiddle' was grammatically misused by the lower class of the past to such an extent it became a saying which is used until today, or at least that is my theory. Everything I wrote has no evidence to support it and is only a linguistical theory. I hope this helps you.

  • Your (unsupported) theory, such as it is, seems to hinge on the notion that “mood” is countable here — but is it? You can certainly say “in good ___” with non-count nouns; e.g., “in good company,” “in good time,” “soaked in good wine” or “cooked in melted butter.” – Scott Jul 30 '17 at 9:57
  • I believe 'mood' is countable because one of its definitions is 'a temporary state of mind or feeling'. You can count 'states of minds' (e.g. 'What are the ten states of minds which oppose Buddhism?'), so you can also say 'What are the ten different moods which oppose Buddhism?' So if mood has a plural and a singular, it can be counted. Also, 'in a good mood' means that you have a good one, not one in general, thus you're counting it. Your examples with 'in good company' or 'in good time' are incountable, as you say, thus you can't use the determiner 'a' even if you mean a certain kind of ... – Nani no Kami Jul 30 '17 at 17:31
  • ...company. (My message was four characters too long) – Nani no Kami Jul 30 '17 at 17:33
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I am in good mood would really be grammatically wrong because it lacks a determiner. Determiner, which is often describe as demonstrative and possessive adjectives, often serves as a distinction. For more information regarding the determiner kindly click here.

  • Then how come we say "I am in good spirits" and "I am in fine fettle"? By the way, I am not the downvoter. – deadrat Apr 15 '16 at 4:25
  • Would you really use "in bad spirits" here? Remember, good here describes the word "mood". I could say that I am in a bad mood, but I wouldn't dare to say "I am in bad spirits." – Archie Azares Apr 15 '16 at 5:05
  • @deadrat I think, your examples contain compound words. Kindly correct me if I'm wrong because I am also confused. thanks – Archie Azares Apr 15 '16 at 5:16
  • A brief look with the google finds the use of "in bad spirits" by Willaim James, so I think we're both free to use that phrase. I'm not sure what you mean by compound words, so I can't tell whether you're correct or not. What are compound words and which words of my example do you think are compound? – deadrat Apr 15 '16 at 6:15

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