0

I came across this sentence while reading an article:

"The massive, untracked streams of cash it creates can fuel more illegal activity, including terrorism."

It seems weird to me that the word "more" was used with the singular form of "activity." Wouldn't it make more sense to say "more illegal activities"? Or is the word "activity" more used as a singular noun than a plural noun?

I would greatly appreciate any help! Thanks! :)

2
  • Is it wrong to say 'more activities'? I don't think so.
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 6:44
  • 1
    I think the meanings of activity that applies here is "the state or quality of being active" - there is more illegal activity in the sense that criminals are more active in the situation in question. (Not sure that that's enough to post as an answer, but it might get you started.)
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 7:14

2 Answers 2

1

In this particular case, ‘activity’ designates a body of actions undertaken by somebody and is uncountable. Uncountable nouns refer to actions/objects collectively. A few examples of phrases with the same characteristics: police work/activity, physical exercise, manual work, good advice, etc. We can use determinants such as more/less, intense/mild, better/worse in relation to such words, but we cannot exactly say how much or how many of ‘it’ somebody has done/undergone, etc. ‘Activity’ may be countable or uncountable, but there are many nouns that are uncountable only, whether defective of singular or of plural. According to https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/activity (visited on 05/11/2020), activity means: def. B2 [uncountable] “the situation in which a lot of things are happening or people are moving around: […] Economists are concerned by the low level of economic activity”; def. B2 [countable & uncountable] “the work of a group or organization to achieve an aim: He was found guilty of terrorist activity”.

2
  • Welcome to ELU. Please see Your answer is in another castle. Answers should be complete in themselves, albeit referencing supporting works.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 8:34
  • Both links go to the same limited definition. Answers that use maybe hint at opinion, albeit wonderful. The OP is a singular-plural question. Can you expand to explain why acitivites is not needed? Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 17:24
0

Simply put, Activity can be countable or uncountable.

In its uncountable form, it encompasses all types of activity; activity in general:

"The building site was a hive of activity."

In its countable form, it refers to separate/individual activities:

"The carpenters, builders, plasterers and roofers were busily engaged in their activities."

Collins Dictionary: Activity/activity

1. uncountable noun

Activity is a situation in which a lot of things are happening or being done.

...an extraordinary level of activity in the government bonds market.

...the electrical activity of the brain. [+ of]

  1. countable noun

An activity is something that you spend time doing.

You can take part in activities from canoeing to bird watching.

When an uncountable noun is qualified by an adjective or adjunct, it may accept the indefinite article in its meaning of "an example of".

Consider:

"Ask John, he has more knowledge of the area [than me]"

And thus we have:

[It] can fuel more illegal activity (uncountable) [than I have mentioned]

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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