"Seeing the Grand Canyon was certainly____(an /some) experience." Is experience countable or uncountable? Should I use some or an?

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  • In fact, its countability or otherwise notwithstanding, we could still say an experience. Here the reference is to a slightly different concept. – Kris Oct 4 '14 at 5:04
  • Have you checked a dictionary for all the meanings of 'experience?' – Kris Oct 4 '14 at 5:05
  • Ya I did.. 1- acquisition of skills and 2- have a first hand view or feeling of something – Shonima Nandakumar Oct 4 '14 at 5:08
  • Please also visit our sister site English Language Learners – Kris Oct 4 '14 at 5:09

There is more than one meaning to the word 'experience,' the primary meaning being that of the mass noun. However, there is also the secondary meaning, which is countable:

ODO experience

2 An event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone:
audition day is an enjoyable experience for any seven-year old

  • So which experience should I consider countable and why? – Shonima Nandakumar Oct 4 '14 at 5:19
  • See my comment at the question. It is the second meaning cited above that is used in the example sentence. – Kris Oct 4 '14 at 5:20
  • So the one which leaves impression is countable while the acquisition of skills one is uncountable..? – Shonima Nandakumar Oct 4 '14 at 5:23
  • No, the one which is an individual event is countable, while the one that may be smeared over a long period is uncountable. (Yes, they are as you have said, but that does not seem to me to be a very useful way to distinguish them) – Colin Fine Oct 4 '14 at 9:08

The answer is Yes, experience can be countable or uncountable.

  • Countable: She had several religious experiences in Lourdes.

  • Uncountable: She has more experience with that than I do.

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