1

The youth of today dream of high-quality educationS.

Is this sentence correct? If so, then why?

A teacher I know often uses uncountable Nonouns such as knowledges, educations, sugars as plurals.

Can I say he is misusing uncountable nouns when he dies this? What is your message for him?

  • Unless he is a teacher of English, do nothing. It is impolite to criticize people for their lack of skill in languages, especially languages they learned later in life. (Unless they invite you to make such criticism.) – GEdgar Dec 21 '19 at 17:56
  • I'd say someone whose job it is to criticise other's language should be open to self critique. "Refined sugars" is rather common, I believe (because it's poly-sacharose?) – vectory Dec 21 '19 at 18:16
  • Education in general is quite different from an education. The first use is not countable, but the second is clearly countable by virtue of its article. . – tchrist Dec 22 '19 at 1:54
  • I would interpret the capita "S" as being a typo. – Hot Licks Dec 22 '19 at 2:14
  • 1
    @HotLicks lol! I would interpret the "capita" as being an autocorrect. – Jalene Dec 22 '19 at 8:26
3

It’s is not necessarily incorrect to use words that are usually uncountable in countable ways. It depends on whether there is another meaning that is countable.

Sugar can be countable when speaking of different types of sugar: three related but different sugars are glucose, fructose, and galactose. Note that even in this case, it may be more common (but not more correct) to use a construction that uses the uncountable form: “Three types of sugar are…”.

(Different types of a thing is the most common reason to see a normally uncountable noun used as a countable noun. The most familiar example might danger: though danger is usually uncountable and comes in degrees rather than discrete quantities, we can also say that “dangers abound”, to say that there are many types or sources of danger.)

Education can be countable when referring to the individual, specific educations of a set of people. Again, it’s more common, but not more correct, to use the uncountable version, as in “The youth of today dream of a high-quality education.” It carries a slightly different connotation though: that all are deprived of such, and collectively share that dream, while the countable construction focuses the reader slightly more on the individuality of the people mentioned.

Knowledge is much harder to use countably. The usual kind of construction for multiple knowledges is “fields of knowledge”, “knowledge domains”, and other similar constructions that place the plural on another noun. Wiktionary does include the countable version of knowledge and indicates that it can be used to mean multiple fields of knowledge. However, my experience is that plural knowledges is very rarely used, because it is rarely understood as clearly meaning “fields of knowledge”. When a word causes more confusion than clarity, it tends to lose currency.

  • Depending on the native tongue of the language instructor, they might have had something else in mind, like a diversified education consisting of different types of education, so you have highschool education, college or trade school education, I don't know musical education. Whether that's a multitude per capita or in sum doesn't really matter though, because it's not currently idiomatic in English. – vectory Dec 22 '19 at 15:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.