consider this link

"Good mood" here, the word "good" clearly describes the word "mood". As far as I am concerned, I could change the word "good" in any other words that would be able to describe "mood".

On the latter part of the link is were my question comes.

"I am in good spirits" - We know that this particular sentence is correct. My question is, is "good spirits" considered as a compound word here? If not, why did it become correct, even if it lacks a determiner?

just to clarify

As we know, a link here explains that "in a good mood" was the correct usage, but it does not explain why we say "in a good mood" as oppose to "in good mood" just like in good company, in good standing, in good time, in good conscience, in good condition, in good stead which are all grammatically correct.

I really cannot find any suitable explanation for this thing.

By the way I already understand regarding the singular and plural matter.

  • The question that you linked to has a new answer, which suggests that the "determiner" is optional when the noun is plural.  For example, "I have a cat. I have apples."  (Or I could say "I have some apples" or "I have three apples.")  Hence, "a good mood", but "good spirits". Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 7:51
  • Thanks! Looks, like this is the actual answer I was looking for. Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 7:45
  • @Scott could you kindly explain this in good company, in good standing, in good time, in good conscience, in good condition, in good stead. Commented May 4, 2016 at 4:17
  • 1
    Fer cryin' out loud! "MOOD" IS SINGULAR, "SPIRITS" IS PLURAL!!! (Other terms may lack an article because they are "mass nouns" -- same difference.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 1:54
  • sorry edited the question of the reason why I put the bounty Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 2:13

2 Answers 2


Even though mood (and state of mind) can be described in gradations — good, better, fine, awful, etc. — I think we nevertheless understand mood in a specific sense. In the case of "in a good mood", I think good is being used less as a gradation and more as something synonymous with happy or content.

In contrast, if I say "I am in good health," I am conveying my overall, general health and its state on a continuous scale. I can't be specific about a particular physical condition when I say, "I am in X health", I can only express an X degree of wellness.

Unlike general nouns in this context, mood can take adjectives such as happy, angry, sad, romantic, sentimental, silly, and many more which are not gradations, but specific states that serve to describe a particular mood. And, in its specificity, it requires the article a.

  • how about "in good condition" Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 0:04
  • seen this link italki.com/question/66234 thanks Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 0:10
  • @ArchieAzares I believe the meaning of condition hinges on whether the subject is animate or inanimate. For humans and other living creatures, condition is almost always synonymous with the general word health, but for inanimate objects, it can mean either health or the more specific state. General: "The bridge is in poor condition." Specific: "The bridge is in a deteriorating condition."
    – pablopaul
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 2:40

I dont think the term "good spirits" is a compound word, since there are cases where the sentense "(someone is) in bad spirits." is used. I personally think the reason why you don't hear it as much has something to do with the Bible. Bad spirits = Evil spirit, maybe ??

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