I find the following two phrases perfectly correct:

  • A list of books
  • A list of names

However, when an uncountable noun follows "a list of", it somehow sounds awkward to me:

  • A list of equipment
  • A list of information

Are these two phrases perfectly okay? Or Should they be modified like the following?

  • A list of pieces/items of equipment
  • A list of pieces/items of information

1 Answer 1


Good question. I would say the very act of putting the word "list" in front of "equipment" makes the reader think of individual pieces. "List of equipment" is common and acceptable. But an ngram search for "list of pieces of equipment" finds ZERO instances (although "pieces of equipment" is quite common.)

"List of equipment" might be an example of ellipsis, often used in English to shorten expressions (you could say that [pieces of" is always implied.)

Likewise with "information" (or "data"). The phrases "list of information" and "list of data" are both relatively common, but "list of items of information" and "list of items of data" are virtually nonexistent (1 and 0 instances respectively) in ngram search. https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=list+of+information%2Clist+of+data%2Clist+of+items+of+data%2Clist+of+items+of+information&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1960&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2Clist%20of%20information%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Blist%20of%20information%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BList%20of%20Information%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BList%20of%20information%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BLIST%20OF%20INFORMATION%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Blist%20of%20Information%3B%2Cc0%3B.t4%3B%2Clist%20of%20data%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Blist%20of%20data%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BList%20of%20Data%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BList%20of%20data%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BLIST%20OF%20DATA%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Clist%20of%20items%20of%20information%3B%2Cc0

So say "list of information"; or, if it seems appropriate, "list of data"

(note that "data" is often considered a mass noun, but strictly speaking it is the plural of a count noun, "datum")

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