Macmillan Dictionary gives the following example sentence for the word "society" as a countable noun: "Good writing still has a place in contemporary society."

I know "society" can be used both as a countable and uncountable noun but if it is used as a countable noun in this sentence, why is an indefinite article not required (i.e., in contemporary society)? Is it something to do with "contemporary"?

I hope anyone can help me with this question. Thank you!

  • 7
    In my view, the dictionary is wrong, and society is not a countable noun in that example (though it can be in other contexts).
    – Colin Fine
    May 12, 2015 at 23:11

3 Answers 3


The dictionary erred when giving that example for the use as a countable noun. The example clearly is using it in a general sense rather than as a concrete, countable noun. We can change the example to fit as a countable noun by either adding an article or by making 'society' plural. "Good writing still has a place in contemporary societies." "Good writing still has a place in a contemporary society." As we can see, this changes the meaning. The word 'contemporary' has nothing to do with the countability of 'society'.


I believe that the article is omitted because society is being referred to in a generic, or general sense.


There are a large variety of nouns that are countable and do not require an article when used. Here's a resource which talks about some of them. It is particularly true when they are used with prepositions. Here are some common examples:

I want to travel across the country by car.
There are too many innocent people who go to prison.
At home, people tend to let their guard down.


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