get sunstroke vs. get a sunstroke


Senior Member

In this thread: get hit by the sun?
The AE lady says:
He suffered a sunstroke/suffered from sunstroke.
He succumbed to sunstroke.
He suffered a sunstroke/suffered from sunstroke.
whereas the BE person says:
"Get" works fine in British English - but it's "sunstroke" without "the":
On holiday in Australia last year, I got sunstroke.
Whereas google ngrams says:

Google Ngram Viewer

(I.e., there's a very slight tendency toward getting A sunstroke, but it looks as if you could say it both ways.)

Is this an AE/BE difference?
Can you really say both "I got sunstroke the other day" and "I got a sunstroke the other day"?

  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    I always say get sunstroke and I'm surprised anyone says get a sunstroke, although you say have a stroke in the sense of suffer damage to the brain. Perhaps it's a BE/AE thing. If other people think a sunstroke is acceptable, I can't really argue. I suppose a stroke is a specific thing and sunstroke is something more general.


    Senior Member
    "Sunstroke" without an article sounds more natural to me too.

    I suppose you could look at "I got sunstroke" as meaning "I suffered from the illness called sunstroke" and "I got a sunstroke" as meaning "I suffered from an incident of sunstroke".

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It would be understandable that someone might say 'a sunstroke' because we do say that someone suffered 'a stroke'.
    But there's often no logic in these things not even an easily identifiable reliable pattern.
    (Shouldn't this be on the existing thread?)
    < Off-topic comment removed. Cagey, moderator >
    Last edited by a moderator:


    English - England
    Because "a sunstroke" seemed alien to me, I looked at the books that give the context for "He suffered a sunstroke/suffered from sunstroke."; "He got a sunstroke/got sunstroke."

    I could only find two examples of "sunstroke" being countable - in both cases they described the cause of an historical death with the impression that the terms was taken from contemporary medical records.

    To me, the countable "He suffered a sunstroke" is the use of an old fashioned medical term and we now would say "he died of heat exhaustion." Whereas the current meaning of "sunstroke" is simply mild heat exhaustion and not fatal.

    "I think I have a touch of sunstroke." I've got sunstroke" "He didn't join us as he has sunstroke."

    "A sunstroke" is not current English. Sunstroke is uncountable. Sunstroke is an informal term.

    With the exception of "a cold", the rest of the names of illnesses are uncountable - because they are names.


    Senior Member
    British English
    When I said 'other people', I meant other other people with English as their first language. I see Barque's distinction, although I don't think it's one people would make. I agree with Hermione that these things aren't always logical. (There's the occasional the. The runs is slang for diarrhoea. But I digress. I agree with PaulQ.)
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