I understand it is an indefinite article, so does it really depend on how we mean 'career advice'?

I read an advertisement, "Need a career advice? - Contact ... " which I'm pretty sure is wrong

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    I cannot think of any context that it could be wrong, can you show what phrase got you confused? – Alexandre Borela Aug 11 '15 at 10:20
  • If you asking "can the words a career advice appear grammatically in an English sentence, then the answer is yes. However I suspect you are enquiring about count and non-count nouns. Please give some more context. In this case please give a complete sentence that includes the phrase. English is a context-dependent language. – chasly - supports Monica Aug 11 '15 at 10:22
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    @AlexandreBorela - I can think of many contexts where it could be wrong. Most contexts in fact. – chasly - supports Monica Aug 11 '15 at 10:22
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    @Alexandre: let me give you a piece of advice: if you want to talk about a single instance of a mass noun in English, put a quantifying word before it like a grain of rice, a piece of fruit, a kernel of corn" – Peter Shor Aug 11 '15 at 10:56
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    "Career advice" is grammatically correct and idiomatic. However, "advice" is an uncountable noun. – Hot Licks Aug 11 '15 at 12:22

"Need a career advice? - Contact .. "

The above is clearly written by a non-native English speaker. "advice" is a non-count noun. The correct phrase is,

Need career advice? - Contact ... "


Need some career advice? - Contact ... "

Here's a context where "a career advice" is possible,

John plans to set up a career advice bureau.

In that case the indefinite article applies to the word "bureau".

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    Or "Let me give you a piece of career advice." – Peter Shor Aug 11 '15 at 10:48
  • @PeterShor - Agreed (+1). However in this specific context, which appears to be a small ad offering the service, I think my versions are more appropriate. An ad saying Need a piece of career advice? Contact ..." could appear sarcastic! – chasly - supports Monica Aug 11 '15 at 10:52
  • Agreed: your versions are much better for the ad (although arguably, my version is the correct grammar for what the ad was actually trying to say). – Peter Shor Aug 11 '15 at 10:58
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    +1 to the answer. I think the ad author understands "advice" as a synonym for "consultation". – TRomano Aug 11 '15 at 12:13
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    @SpehroPefhany - unless you are the boss! – chasly - supports Monica Aug 11 '15 at 14:07

There is one very specific definition of "advice" ("an official notification, especially one pertaining to a business agreement" - dictionary.com) that would allow using "a" in front of it (though I would think at least you'd want to say "an", since advice begins with a vowel.) Otherwise, no. You can say "some advice" or "a piece of advice" but not "a advice." Maybe they meant "any"?

"Advice" seems to be kind of a cross between an abstract noun - something you can't use your senses to experience, such as "anxiety" - and a collective noun, a word describing a group of things, like "team" or "flock." It's hard to think of another word that is exactly like "advice," though.

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