8

I have an essay prompt that includes "insights" in the context "develop new insights into my community"

This isn't actually correct for me to write in my essay is it?

I mean insight can be used as a plural without any modification...

To gain insight on something doesn't really suggest quantity does it? Simply the state of enlightenment. You'd need to use "a lot of insight" or some such thing if you wanted to modify it yes?

1 Answer 1

11

It's similar to the difference between perspective and perspectives. If you say someone has perspective, that's saying that he generally is able to look at things from a good point of view. However, if you talk about someone who shares a lot of perspectives, then you're talking about multiple specific points of view.

Likewise, someone who has insight has the general ability to understand the nature of things. Take this example sentence from Merriam-Webster:

He is a leader of great insight.

This sentence is saying that the leader has an impressive ability to understand things; this is a general insight. M-W also gives an example sentence with insights:

Her book provides us with fresh new insights into this behavior.

Here each insight is a fresh understanding of something specific, so you can have more than one of them, just like you can see something from more than one specific perspective.

Going back to your sentence, it seems insights would be more appropriate because you are presumably developing more than one specific insight into your community. Note that your sentence and Merriam-Webster's second example sentence use the phrasing "insights into."

4
  • 1
    +1, Nicole. Yes, there is "insight," used as a descriptor of the capacity or quality, and "insights," used to describe particular instances or demonstrations of that capacity's occurrence.
    – user98990
    May 6, 2015 at 15:48
  • 1
    Well said, Little Eva.
    – Nicole
    May 6, 2015 at 18:53
  • 1
    Thanks @Nicole - I was stuck thinking about insight in a way that probably isn't relevant at all. The prompt indeed makes more sense thinking about multiple ways to understand something because it's a Sociology paper that requires us to talk on concepts presented by lecturers. - Another question though: Would you consider insight to be an absolute term or would you modify the phrase to suggest various degrees of insight ("a little insight", "a lot of insight", etc.) ? May 7, 2015 at 9:02
  • If you're talking about the quality, I'd say you could suggest degrees, just as you could talk about "a little" or "a lot" of love, confidence, or any other abstract quality. If you're talking about specific instances of insight, you would use number words rather than degree words: several, many, three, etc.
    – Nicole
    May 7, 2015 at 13:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.