I saw this sentence in a textbook:

His physical traits have been given.

We know that an abstract or non-physical thing is an uncountable noun. In this sentence the word "trait" means characteristic. So why is it plural?


We know that an abstract or beyond physical thing is a uncountable noun.

I did not, and do not know that.

And in this sentence,the word"trait"means characteristic.

The same that goes for trait goes for characteristic: it is countable.

Gods are well countable, unless your specific religion of choice forbids you that. Oh, religions are countable too. Abstract concepts are countable too.

Actually, just about almost totally every abstract or "beyond physical" thing I am thinking of now is countable.


I see no reason why abstract things should be regarded as uncountable.

Try: 'I have two different recollections of what happened'. 'People's feelings on the matter are threefold'.

We all have a variety of characteristics, and traits, which make up our individual personalities.

  • Exactly. '...abstract things should be regarded as uncountable....' It's a rule of thumb given by lazy / incompetent English teachers. They're all thumbs. While we're on the subject, the classification of nouns into abstract v concrete is notoriously contentious. Are my metaphorical thumbs abstract? Rules when they're not written down? When they are? Holes? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 5 '14 at 20:36

He has brown hair. He has blue eyes. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall. He weighs 190 pounds. There you go: four physical traits. Totally countable.

  • And not abstract, for that matter. – Oldcat Mar 5 '14 at 19:54
  • 1
    ,,, Depends who painted him. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 5 '14 at 20:38

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