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I am currently writing a cover letter and I want to make sure that this sentence is correct. I believe it is, however, my brain won't let me stop looking at it. For this sentence to be correct does it need to contain ability or abilities?

My past work experience has given me the ability/abilities to communicate effectively, research, solve problems efficiently and manage my time wisely.

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Either is correct.

Ability is an abstract noun. It is similar in that respect to integrity and professionalism.

We might say:

I am looking for someone with the integrity to handle cash and respect client confidentiality.

or

The OP has the professionalism to review his draft and to seek help when he is uncertain.

We would not say integrities or professionalisms, even though multiple instances of integrity and professionalism are listed.

Professionalism, integrity and ability are characteristics of a person. The OP has professionalism and ability. Examples of his ability are that he can communicate effectively, research, solve problems efficiently and manage his time wisely.

However it is also possible to consider each particular skill as an ability, and in that case it is not wrong to use abilities.

In the case of a covering letter the focus is on the person and the extent of his ability, so I think it is better to use "ability" rather than "abilities".

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I can't find a good source for this, but it feels wrong to use "abilities" here. Consider this list as merely a compilation of your abilities rather than in a nicer grammatical form:

My past work experience has given me the ability to communicate effectively, the ability to research, the ability to solve problems efficiently and the ability to manage my time wisely.

Does it then make sense to contract and summarise this using the singular form of ability, since each term in the list refers only to one ability each time?

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Since there appear to be several different abilities, then 'abilities' would work better.

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