Mumps - with or without the article

Hotmale

Senior Member
Polish
Hello :)

Does "mumps" take the article optionally?
Can we say "the mumps" or "mumps"?

Thank you

 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In AE we use the article in sentences like "I have the mumps". In some sentences we do not. I think we need context.
     

    yourfairlady05

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - United States
    I think you have to have the article.
    "I had the mumps.":tick:
    "I had mumps.":cross:

    EDIT: It appears Cagey got here before I did, and I'm going to have to agree with him. I think it depends on context. I looked at the Wikepedia page for "Mumps" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumps and they seem to use the word both with the article and without it.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Oh, I thought that in case of "mumps" or "flu" we have an option.
    In AE, we say we have the flu, too.

    I think we want some BE input. There can be differences in usages, as we saw in a thread on headaches, toothaches, and stomach aches.
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yes, I think so.
    I've looked "flu" up in a dictionary and it says:

    "to catch/get/have (the) flu" - so obviously there is a choice

    But I have no information about "mumps"

    Thank you :)
     

    yourfairlady05

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - United States
    I think (but am not sure) that we use "mumps" (without the article) for talking about the illness itself, but then we use "the mumps" when someone has the illness.
    For example:
    "Mumps is a virus."
    "I got the mumps last year."/"Children with the mumps can get blue teeth." (Not true but I had to finish the sentence)
     

    lablady

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Here is a lengthy thread on the subject. It's the result of several threads that have been merged. Posts about the mumps start on page two.

    After reading through the thread, all I know for certain is that there doesn't seem to be a consensus.
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Lablady,

    Your words about not reaching a consensus are very comforting :D

    Thanks for the link :)

    Have a nice evening :)
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Is this another one of those cases when I always thought it was the mumps because someone a long time ago told me it was so. Usage on the internet (thanks Google) gives approximately 20 times more hits for mumps than the mumps.

    Thus common useage, which eventually is always correct, tells me I am a fast becoming a dinosaurus.

    GF.. I am a dino, it's the mumps! :cool:
     

    lablady

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    ...Usage on the internet (thanks Google) gives approximately 20 times more hits for mumps than the mumps
    I get the same results with another search engine. I note with interest that many of the hits for "mumps" without the article are government and medical websites. This may indeed show that using the article for "mumps" is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

    I, too, am a dino. It's the mumps in my book. :)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I say I had mumps, I had flu.

    I don't have any problems with I had the mumps/I had the flu. But to me it sounds very slightly (NB: very & slightly:)) "non-standard".
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Please take extreme care with these Google results.
    Many examples of the mumps will be references to the mumps vaccine - for example.
    Many examples of "mumps" without "the" will be references to the Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System.
    Otherwise, my comments are in the linked thread.
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    When my younger brother and I were in our very early childhood, he caught a dose of measles, as I suffered through a scratch of chicken pox, we then swapped disorders, and finally became mumps sufferers, as did my unfortunate mother trying to look after us. We did not suffer "the" of any of those childhood illnesses, we just had them.
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    I think (but am not sure) that we use "mumps" (without the article) for talking about the illness itself, but then we use "the mumps" when someone has the illness.
    For example:
    "Mumps is a virus."
    "I got the mumps last year."/"Children with the mumps can get blue teeth." (Not true but I had to finish the sentence)
    The results I find in the Corpus of Contemporary American English seem to support this perspective:

    -not only the diseases that we now cover by vaccines, like measles or mumps or a few others
    -the apparent sterility, possibly caused by mumps;
    -inoculated against eight infectious disease: measles, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus
    -It didn't end -- two years later, mumps killed thousands in the capital
    - Mumps usually causes fever, headache, and inflammation

    but

    -and both boys had the mumps,
    -I've had the mumps
    -When Robin Gadient came down with the mumps
    -supposing little Johnny or little Katie had the mumps
     

    aparis2

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes, I think so.
    I've looked "flu" up in a dictionary and it says:

    "to catch/get/have (the) flu" - so obviously there is a choice

    But I have no information about "mumps"

    Thank you :)
    With both the flu and the mumps, I have always heard it used with the article (the). In fact, I would say flu with no article would sound more incorrect than mumps with no article. But then again I live in the Eastern United States so it might be different elsewhere.
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    Like aparis2, I was having a hard time thinking of examples using 'flu' without an article. In the Corpus of Contemporary American English, while I found some examples, it seemed to be much less common than 'the flu.' I did, however, find some instances:

    It won't protect against all flu
    people who are at risk for flu consider having
    There's lots of flu going around
    some other phenomenon, such as a new variety of flu, is causing
    Bell guessed it was flu and would soon pass

    and sometimes used with 'a' rather than 'the'

    came down with an intestinal flu
    what seemed an extremely tenacious flu
    after the normal five-to-seven-day run of a flu

    But *the* flu appeared MUCH more often, even in similar sentences.

    EDIT: I also found this thread:
    cold, a cold or the cold? flu, a flu, or the flu?
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=280838
     
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