Questions about uncountable (non-count, mass) nouns

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44
votes
5answers
4k views

Is “Just a friendly advice” grammatical?

I know that "advice" is uncountable and thus is incompatible with the article "a". However, the phrase "Just a friendly advice" seems to be rather widespread. Is it idiomatic, or incorrect? What is ...
44
votes
7answers
2k views

Is “data” considered singular or plural?

Related to this question and this question. My non-native English speaking friend just asked me: Data is ... or Data are ... I said both but that's because I've been desensitized from ...
28
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it wrong to use the word “codes” in a programming context?

Is it wrong to use the word "codes" in programming context? I shall use these codes.
18
votes
5answers
39k views

Is “there're” (similar to “there's”) a correct contraction?

Q: "Do you have any juice?" A: "Yes, there's some in the fridge." Sounds perfectly fine to me, but: Q: "Do you have any towels?" A: "Yes, there's some in the closet." Does not. I asked ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Usage of English definite article when referring to generic word

My mother language does not have articles, so I still struggle to choose when to use the indefinte and definite article. The other day, I learned: "The dog is an animal" is acceptable. "The iron is ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

“None” as plural indefinite pronoun

In my grammar book (English Grammar, HarperCollins Publishers), I read that none is occasionally treated as plural, but it is usually regarded as singular. Can you give me an example of sentence where ...
11
votes
3answers
504 views

Count vs. mass — where can you look this up?

Most dictionaries don't say whether a noun is count vs. mass. Short of asking a fluent English speaker, where can you get this kind of information? I've tried asking various other ESL/EFL people I ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

Is the word “data” now considered singular, or still plural?

I know that the singular of data is datum. I know that data is a plural. However, common usage of the word "data" suggests it is used as a "collection of data". Here is [the collection of] data. ...
11
votes
3answers
300 views

Difference in usage of “rock” and “rocks”

Recently, I came across this situation where I was asked which one was correct: Fossils are found in sedimentary rock. Fossils are found in sedimentary rocks. Is there is distinction ...
11
votes
5answers
723 views

What does Maugham mean by “his spaghetti were”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Was the usage "Spaghetti were" ever acceptable or common? [Following up from, but not a duplicate of, this question by another user, which was unresolved…] ...
10
votes
4answers
4k views

“Baggage” versus “luggage”

I have the feeling that luggage is more closely associated with vacation travel, whereas baggage is for general transportation. Or... are they just exact synonyms?
10
votes
4answers
8k views

Is “stuff ” a plural word? [closed]

I'm wondering which one of these expressions is correct? This stuff or these stuff?
9
votes
4answers
760 views

Can I use the word “milks” when discussing KINDS of milk

Heard at the cafe: "We have three milks: soy, almond, and cow." Is it ok to use the word "milks" in this context? I've heard it in other uncountable nouns, like "essential oils", or "simple sugars", ...
8
votes
4answers
855 views

Is radish countable or uncountable?

Are vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, radish countable or not when we talk about food? Which is correct? "We have some cabbage in the kitchen." Or "We have a cabbage." "I added some radishes to the ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Are two or more clusters of ivy considered “ivy” or “ivies”?

When referring to two or more clusters of ivy, is it ivy, ivies, or something else entirely?
7
votes
2answers
577 views

Was the usage “Spaghetti were” ever acceptable or common?

In W. Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence, there is a line about Dirk Stroeve which goes His spaghetti were …. Spaghetti is plural in Italian, but is this ever a normal usage in English? ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Is the plural “bosoms” an acceptable word? Or is it always “bosom”?

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bosom I found recently that even an elderly educated woman was referring to her bosom in the plural, as her bosoms. Please settle my discomfort finally, and clarify ...
7
votes
1answer
422 views

Term for Uncountable Nouns, Mass Nouns which are sometimes countable

While I know how to use the words that I use, I do not know if there is a term to describe words that are uncountable nouns, but at the same time are countable in other circumstances. "Cheese" is one ...
6
votes
5answers
428 views

Explanation for “emails”?

This is a thinly veiled rant, I realize, but if anybody can rationalize "emails" for me in such a way that I can stop grabbing people who say it, and asking them if they've ever gone to their mailsbox ...
6
votes
3answers
218 views

Is “latte” a countable noun?

I have learned that liquids are uncountable, except for measurements such as "three cups of water." So, does "three lattes" in this context refer to three cups of latte?
6
votes
4answers
2k views

When to use “the” before food names

I am new to the English language and I am going to English classes. In the middle of my book, we have a lesson about foods. In this lesson, food names are explained but I do not understand something. ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is bread uncountable? How do you describe the “three breads” in the picture?

In this picture there are "three breads", but they are not loaves because loaves can be cut into pieces, and they are not slices either because they weren't cut with a knife. So the only way to ...
5
votes
3answers
743 views

When do we use 'revision' as a countable noun?

'Revision' might be countable or uncountable. I am a little bit confused.
5
votes
2answers
590 views

Are uncountable nouns considered irregular plurals like man men?

Is "rice", for example only, considered an irregular plural?
5
votes
2answers
311 views

“I played two music” vs. “I played two pieces of music”

I have a Canadian friend who sometimes helps me improve my English. A few days ago she sent me a list of some words (nouns) which the plural form is the same of the singular. One of these words was ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Many more vs much more / many fewer vs much fewer

This year there were: many more people much more people Alternatively: many fewer people much fewer people Which is considered better English?
5
votes
2answers
235 views

Combined reference to multiple leave

Dictionaries(dictionary.com, OALD etc.) suggest that leave (absence from work) is a noun- uncountable, which means it has to be "leave" for plural. Also, searching SE to find ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Is thanks a countable noun? Many thanks or much thanks?

A colleague of mine recently wrote in an email "much thanks for your efforts." Does this usage make sense? How does "much thanks" differ from "many thanks"? This is similar to "Is “Many thanks” a ...
5
votes
2answers
898 views

Using an uncountable noun and 'none'

Today I came across the following sentence: We asked for help and were given none. It feels and sounds right to me. However, after decomposing none into not one, it becomes apparent that you ...
4
votes
6answers
646 views

Mass nouns and counts nouns. Does getting it wrong ever matter?

Less/fewer, too much/too many, amount/number... When people get these things wrong, it bugs me. But I cannot think of a situation where mistaking a mass noun for a count noun (or vice versa) would ...
4
votes
3answers
232 views

Why do you use “much” when mentioning RAM?

How much RAM do I need? Why do I need to use much here? I was under the impression that if I'm mentioning anything countable, I should use many. You can always quantify RAM, so this seems very ...
4
votes
1answer
364 views

Why are “homework” and “work” uncountable in English? [closed]

In Bulgarian both "homework" and "work" are countable. Why are they uncountable in English then? What is the difference in meaning that makes that happen?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

'… the weather' vs. '… weather'

There are two correct (I hope so) sentences with weather taken from a book: Was the weather nice? Did you have nice weather? Can somebody explain why there's an article in the first ...
4
votes
3answers
16k views

“Is there” versus “Are there”

Are there any questions I should be asking? Is there any articles available on the subject? My instinct is that in the two questions above, it should be 'are' as the subjects of the sentences ...
4
votes
1answer
135 views

“(zero article) failure” but “the departure”: articles before mass nouns

A quote from The Economist: In Iraq failure to reach a similar security agreement led to the sudden and premature departure of all American forces. Here we have two nouns which may be either ...
3
votes
3answers
491 views

Plurality of data [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is “data” considered singular or plural? Milton Friedman, the Nobel-prize winning economist used to threaten that he would "take away any graduate student's ...
3
votes
6answers
2k views

Is it grammatically correct to say “have you got paper?”

Is it grammatically correct to say have you got paper? Do you have to specify have you got a piece of paper, any paper or some paper or can you just say paper?
3
votes
4answers
339 views

Can “listening” be countable?

Can listening be countable? Can I say We will do a listening during today's lesson?
3
votes
3answers
638 views

“The (Cobra)” vs. “An (elephant)”, articles with nouns denoting a class

[ 1 ] tells on p.5 that "Singular nouns denoting a class" are preceded by the definite article "THE" (Example: "The Cobra is dangerous"), while on page 7 (Table 6. THE INDEFINITE ARTICLE) it tells ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the plural of “stiffness”?

I’m proofreading for a friend (not that I am an expert on English or his subject matter!), and he has used the word stiffnesss in an engineering context. I believed the plural should be stiffnesses, ...
3
votes
1answer
259 views

When do nouns convert between mass and count?

I confess to having the pedantic hangup of refusing to use email as a count noun, but it's a lost cause. Over the past week I've been working on a modeling and simulation proposal, and I've noticed ...
2
votes
6answers
8k views

“Advice” vs. “an advice”

I have often heard that advice is uncountable and shouldn't be prefixed with an article. So I often force myself to say "a piece of advice". But I've seen it used with an article on a number of ...
2
votes
3answers
445 views

Better wording for “Among other [stuff]”

I have the following problem. I need to say Among other information, [the message] will contain information about the following... I don't like the repetition of "information" here. I thought ...
2
votes
2answers
402 views

Does the sentence “I recycle a paper” make sense?

Could the following sentence make sense? I recycle a paper. It's from one of the school English exam's answers, and we're arguing about giving the whole point or half point. The teachers have ...
2
votes
1answer
126 views

One type of good - singular or plural

I've read conflicting advice on the use of the word "goods" in an economic context (e.g. "goods for sale"). One piece of advice is that it is a plural noun that should never be used singular (e.g. ...
2
votes
1answer
132 views

Can I use “any” with singular noun in formal English?

As far I as I remember, "any" and "some" are used with plural nouns or uncountable ones. I know about exceptions for "some" (Wow, some car). But can I say the following and be grammatical: Is ...
2
votes
0answers
31 views

Less versus fewer in time related phrases [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Less” vs. “fewer” I am quite pedantic when using 'less' versus 'fewer' but don't really understand how the situation works when it comes to ...
1
vote
3answers
949 views

“The” and superlative of uncountable noun — “the clearest water”?

Uncountable nouns are usually used without an article. Superlatives require definite article. What comes out of these 2 rules when superlative meets uncountable article? We need an example, I hope it ...
1
vote
2answers
335 views

When can you pluralize uncountable nouns?

I have a two part question, the second depending on the answer of the first. I don't know if that is frowned upon, but I'm not sure how else to ask. Foil is an uncountable noun so it is not ...
1
vote
3answers
155 views

Usage of uncountable nouns [closed]

Which option is correct to use in this sentence and why? I have (much, many, an) orange juice.