Or in other words, I am asking: How do you "count" medicine? Is the word "medicine" like "gas" where a collection of gas is still called gas:

The air was filled with nitrogen gas.

Instead of:

The air was filled with nitrogen gases.

And only in terms of types of gases do you use the plural:

There are many types of gases in the atmosphere.

So, in the following example:

He gave him some medicines.

Does that mean he gave him different types of medicine, or different amounts?

  • 1
    Types. "Gave him some medicines" implies that there were two or more different types of medicine given. Do you really use "fed"? Is that a British thing?
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 18:39
  • As does gas (The major components of the atmosphere are the gases nitrogen and oxygen. // Sublimation is the process when a solid substance turns directly finto gas.) Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


Your answer is different types of medicine.

"I hate this medicine." <- The quantity of specific medicine is unknown, but is typically implied to be one medicine with an unknown amount of doses with only this much context.

"These medicines can all lead to heart failure." <- Unknown quantity per type, but multiple types.

edit: American English speaker, here. I don't know if it's a regional thing, but I typically would hear/read, "They gave him some meds," or "They prescribed him several medications."

I don't think I've heard people say medicines in the sentence you shared.


Medicine in the pure original meaning is both a singular and plural word as is fruit, meat and bread.

In the modern era such intricate understanding of language seems beyond a lot of people, so two types of fruit or medicine is described as fruits or medicines.

To emphasise that more than one variety of medicine is being described, that can be enunciated as two or ten types or varieties of medicine.

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