11

Why can't we use the word information in the plural form? "Give me all the informations you've got", even if it's wrong, sounds more beautiful to my non-native ear than "give me all the information you've got", and I don't know why.

Edit: This is not a duplicate question since I know that information is a mass noun; what I am asking is, why can't it be in plural like some other mass nouns can? Why is it like that when it seems more correct with s at the end?

closed as unclear what you're asking by RegDwigнt Oct 4 '13 at 9:22

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9

Because we don't. I'm sorry, but that is the whole of the answer. Languages are as they are, not as anybody (native or foreign) wants them to be.

  • 1
    Why not? That's how children learn it. But seriously, I realise that this is a problem for learners of a language, but I don't think there is an answer. Whatever dictionary you use, it is wrong. Even if it is an online dictionary updated daily, there will be words and meanings that it hasn't got yet. And grammar books are worse, because they are nearly always incomplete, out of date, and sometimes plain wrong even at the time they're published, and get progressively more so as the language changes under them. – Colin Fine Oct 3 '13 at 20:08
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    Dictionary compilers have to decide on whether to 'endorse' (ie include) a string they've come across - from what I've seen of the process, a single example wouldn't convince most boards. That doesn't mean the string wouldn't be accepted a year later. Some 'words' are also removed as they fall out of use. Calling this process 'wrong' may not be the best description. But I agree that I've yet to meet a grammar I agree with totally. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 3 '13 at 22:34
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    @Tech Support I've upvoted Colin's depressing answer because I feel it's nearer the truth than the usual 'because it's a non-count noun' or (better) 'because it's usually a non-count noun'. When you think about it, giving it such a label doesn't explain why it isn't used in plural form (ie why it's non-count). In fact, modern usage is licensing countification, as Andrew Leach mentions above. It would be better to look at inherent nondiscreteness v divisiblity - but this doesn't give predictable results. "Furniture," which takes only singular verb forms, is etically discrete. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 3 '13 at 22:51
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    For another illustration of the principle that the count/non-count distinction lies not in an object but rather in the expression that refers to it, consider the English words "fruit" and "vegetables". The objects that these words describe are, objectively speaking, similar (that is, they're all edible plant parts); yet the word "fruit" is (usually) non-count, whereas "vegetables" is a plural count form. One can see that the difference is in the language, not in the reality of the objects. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 3 '13 at 22:52
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    This is the poorest answer to any question on this site. And it's certainly not the whole answer. – AmE speaker Jul 23 '17 at 14:28
26

Because information is a mass noun, i.e. uncountable. In the same way you would say give me all the water in your bucket, rather than give me all the waters...

For discrete items of information, you could use facts.

  • 1
    Yes, you're correct about 'water in your bucket(s)' but we do use the plural like in 'trouble waters', don't we? – itsols Oct 3 '13 at 13:38
  • It's troubled waters, but yes we do. And many other phrases "still waters runs deep" for example. A decent dictionary definition will make clear those meanings. You could always substitute sand for water if you want a better example. – Chris H Oct 3 '13 at 14:07
  • @ Chris: Then someone would point to expressions like desert sands and the sands of time – FumbleFingers Oct 3 '13 at 14:26
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    @FumbleFingers I knew I'd failed - but didn't expect a simple google search to give such a solid example of the fact (I didn't test it myself as the internet has almost as many misspellings as cats). On a more serious note, I guess for any stuff there can be a set of varieties of stuff, i.e. a set of stuffs - it's just that some are more obscure than others. – Chris H Oct 3 '13 at 15:12
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    One could also use piece(s) of information to make it discrete and countable. – StevieP Jun 14 '16 at 9:22

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