‘Good luck’ vs. ‘a good luck’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

Just the other day, I received a reply to the confirmation email all new subscribers to my educational mailing list receive pointing out there was an error in it!

I wished my subscribers “a good luck”, even though “luck” is an uncountable noun, which I was fully aware of by the time I wrote the template. So, how did that get in there?

It seems that wishing “a good luck” is very common on the Internet. Google Search returns the following number of results:

“wish you a good luck” returns “About 4,960,000 results”,
“wish you good luck” returns “About 306,000 results”

However, there is little correlation between the number of occurrences of a certain phrase on the Internet and good English. I checked some of the results, and it seems the vast majority of these were written by non-native speakers, even though there were a few natives who used the phrase as well.

A much better indicator of good English is how common a phrase is in English literature. In order to find out, I used the Google Ngram Viewer:

wish-you-good-luck

The graph tells us that “wish you good luck” is quite common, while “wish you a good luck” isn’t used by professional writers at all! The moral of the story is: You shouldn’t necessarily use a phrase yourself just because you can see it often on the Internet.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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