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Can I say "the table was covered by a scatter"? Is it correct?

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closed as not a real question by Jasper Loy, JLG, Mahnax, Jeff Atwood Jun 9 '12 at 7:46

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Probably not, but since I don't know what you mean by it, I can't tell for sure. Please explain. –  Colin Fine Jun 8 '12 at 23:13
    
@Noah, "scatter" indeed means a small amount of something or rather a small amount of X. You need to substitute X with some word, otherwise it doesn't make sense. –  Alex B. Jun 9 '12 at 0:20
    
@Alex B.- Right. I forgot to add that part. It should rather be a scatter of something –  Noah Jun 9 '12 at 0:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Sure. Of course you can say that...

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+1 hilarious picture –  JAM Jun 9 '12 at 0:05

No, you can't. You have to say something like "the table was covered by a scatter of toys". It's just like "lot". You can say "the table was covered by a lot of junk", but you can't just say "the table was covered by a lot".

Here is some concrete evidence (besides my experience as a native English speaker) for this: the example phrases in two dictionaries.

And here are the first Google hits for "covered by a scatter" (where "scatter" is not an adjective):

  • covered by a scatter of cobble-stones
  • covered by a scatter of limestone boulders
  • covered by a scatter of medium-sized rocks
  • covered by a scatter of debris
  • covered by a scatter of limestone chips
  • covered by a scatter of smaller boulders and pebbles
  • covered by a scatter of burnt wattle and daub
  • covered by a scatter of Chinese and Dutch trade porcelains
  • covered by a scatter of round-edged boulders
  • covered by a scatter of lights from homes, apartment houses, railways
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