I am looking up the Collins Dictionary today for the word "design".


In meaning 4, I see this:

Explanation of Design

  1. uncountable noun
    The design of something is the way in which it has been planned and made.

…a new design of clock.

Here, design it uncountable. But the example uses "a" before "design". Is this an error, or I am missing something?

  • 1
    I haven't found a clear explanation from Collins on how it labels nouns, but here Oxford's policy: lexico.com/en/grammar/countable-nouns "In the Oxford Dictionary of English and the New Oxford American Dictionary, nouns that are chiefly uncountable are described as ‘mass nouns’. This type of noun entry may also include an example sentence showing a countable use of the type described above." Many nouns (like design) can be both countable and uncountable. – jejorda2 Sep 18 '19 at 16:49
  • A new design of clock was revealed yesterday at the trade show.. Definitely not an error. – David M Sep 18 '19 at 17:45
  • @DavidM Then saying "design" is uncountable is wrong, right? – Yifan Sun Sep 18 '19 at 17:57
  • 5. countable noun // A design is a drawing which someone produces to show how they would like something to be built or made. – Mari-Lou A Sep 18 '19 at 18:35
  • 2
    Yes, although a far superior test for a count noun usage is 'are / can numerals and equivalent (eg a dozen) [be] used with this usage?' (so 'a subtle light flooded the glade' shows a non-count usage of 'light'). Here, while 'The design of something is the way in which it has been planned and made' is a non-count usage, 'a new design of clock / several new designs of clock' is a count usage. // This might be considered as requiring an 'answer', but there are many duplicates-or-are-they? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 18 '19 at 18:45

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