I'm having trouble articulating what it is I'm looking for, so I'll start with an example.

Candy is delicious.
Candies are delicious.

Vegetables are delicious.

Fruit is delicious.

So, I guess, when referring to a general category or group of things, are there any rules for which ones become plural, which remain singular, and which can be expressed either way?

I was trying to explain to a student why you'd say "prepositions are challenging to learn", and not, "preposition is challenging to learn", and I've come up short.

Any insight would be welcome!

  • 3
    Countable and uncountable nouns – user116295 Dec 30 '15 at 19:42
  • @JackGraveney: It almost seems like your comment plus your suggested edit is an answer, or at least the beginnings of one. – cobaltduck Dec 30 '15 at 20:21
  • @cobaltduck Didn't see much point in answering when seemingly all the information desired was provided in the link. It is also quite likely that this is a duplicate of some other question on the site, just in a very broad form. – user116295 Dec 30 '15 at 20:25
  • Some nouns can be put in bijection with the set of natural numbers, while others are too large! Woo, I'm such a riot I crack myself up. – Matt Samuel Dec 31 '15 at 7:41
  • I guess that should've been obvious... thank you for the link! – jjohb Dec 31 '15 at 19:30

There are things that you can count as one apple and two apples, and there are things that you don't count. Normally you don't say one milk or two milks.

You say some milk or a cup/bottle of milk. All liquids are uncountable, as well as chemical substances as salt, metals as gold and silver, abstract terms as love, hate. In case of doubt dictionaries give information. Some nouns can be used as uncountables and countables.

The Internet has a lot of web-sites on this grammar point.

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