Should consumption/consumptions be in singular or in plural here?

  1. The total power consumption of a circuit is the sum of the power consumption of the logic cells making up the circuit.

  2. The total power consumption of a circuit is the sum of the power consumptions of the logic cells making up the circuit.

Can you have more than one power consumption? Or is consumption uncountable like power is here? How can one in general know what kind of a noun one is dealing with? Are there rules governing this that native speakers all know?

Is this particular context some sort of special case compared with normal usage because of its mathematical nature?

  • Here, I'd say you have to regard consumptions as a plural count noun, and necessary after 'the sum of'. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 24 '18 at 12:40
  • 3
    As an engineer, consumptions sounds odd to me. – user184130 May 24 '18 at 21:33
  • This is a very strange word choice all around. Power consumption defaults to the highest order of integration under consideration, so you don't treat it as a mathematical quantity like that. It's what the power company bills you for. The mathematical quantity is power, or more consistently, energy or work. Power consumption is the total energy used by the logic cells making up the circuit over some time period. Instantaneous total power is the sum of the power being consumed by the logic cells making up the circuit at some instant. Average rate of power consumption is average power. – Phil Sweet Jul 25 '18 at 3:15

Consumption is a mass noun which does not have a plural form. So, the answer is to use "consumption".

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/consumption indicates that consumption is a "[mass noun]".

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/grammar/countable-nouns explains what a mass noun is. "Nouns can be either countable or uncountable. Countable nouns (or count nouns) are those that refer to something that can be counted. They have both singular and plural forms (e.g. cat/cats; woman/women; country/countries). In the singular, they can be preceded by a or an. Most nouns come into this category. A smaller number of nouns do not typically refer to things that can be counted and so they do not regularly have a plural form: these are known as uncountable nouns (or mass nouns). Examples include: rain, flour, earth, wine, or wood. Uncountable nouns can't be preceded by a or an. Many abstract nouns are typically uncountable, e.g. happiness, truth, darkness, humour."

  • Please add sources to support your answer. – JJJ Apr 24 '18 at 15:10

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