Can a word like violence, which is an uncountable noun, be made countable? For example, there are different types of violence such as physical violence, emotional violence, etc. In this instance, would violence be countable?

  • 1
    Just tacking on an adjective does not make an uncountable noun countable. I can get where you're coming from: you want to say that "multiple violences occurred in my home", as in, physical violence, emotional violence etc. were all occurring in your home. In this case, you would say "multiple types of violence".
    – ophact
    Jan 16, 2022 at 10:14
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    Countification is a very productive feature of English, but not totally productive. Deciding to be the first to press a word into a count usage would be seen as at best waggish, at worst ignorant, flaky or arrogant. Worth risking? 'Disregards'? // Checking for examples on the internet and Google ngrams is a good place to go if dictionaries show no examples. And checking on senses in play: does 'violences' as used mean types or acts of violence ... or both? //// But in this case, Wiktionary gives the count form, plural violences. Jan 16, 2022 at 15:33
  • The earlier uses of violence in the plural referred to individual events of violence, which is no longer acceptable in modern English. It might appear in legal text, but no one would say it unless they were reading aloud. Jan 16, 2022 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


The brief answer is "yes", but this has to be qualified by a historical viewpoint.

There are many references to "these violences" in the period before the 20th Century. The use of the phrase declined thereafter and occurs little now.

Here is ngram's graph:

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One of many secular examples:

Description of America

The French persisting in their claims to the country on the Ohio, as part of Canada, strengthened themselves by erecting new forts in its vicinity, and at length began to seize and plunder every British trader found on any part of that river. Repeated complaints of these violences being made to the Governor of Virginia, it was at length determined to send a suitable person to the French commandant near the Ohio …

One of many religious examples:

Scarce and Valuable Tracts (1751)

These Violences were done all Scotland over , in such Places where the Presbyterians were absolute Masters , but with best Success upon the South Side of the River of Forth.

and a contemporary example:

Social Work in a Globalised World

These violences care not for national boundaries and also tend to most affect those who are already the most deprived.

This all suggests that, although a little archaic, you might be justified in listing the sorts of violence (physical, emotional, financial, institutional, wartime and so forth) and then writing similar prose on the lines of "These violences constitute an affront to humanity".

  • Thumbs up for the research and historical support, but I can't help but wonder if the use of "these violences" is grammatically correct here.
    – ophact
    Jan 16, 2022 at 10:33
  • Syntactically it seems justified; why deny violence the plurality of many other nouns when the occasion demands, so I have added an example of how it might be used.
    – Anton
    Jan 16, 2022 at 12:01
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    @ThisFieldIsRequired It depends what you mean by "grammatically correct". From Old English onwards, all grammar that is properly formed in accordance with the standards of the time is "correct". However, in many cases, it may not be considered "correct" (i.e. idiomatic/acceptable) in current Modern English.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 16, 2022 at 12:15

Can a word like violence, which is an uncountable noun, be made countable?

There are very few words that are only uncountable and probably none that are only countable. Uncountability / countability is usually, (but not always) an attribute of nouns within context. And that attribute may be present or not.

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