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"Weed" (the annoying plant you don't want in your garden) and "weed" (the psychoactive drug) are treated differently grammatically. Just some example sentences

  1. "There are weeds in my garden" vs "There is weed in my garden"
  2. "There is a weed growing in this pot" vs "There is weed growing in this pot"
  3. "How many weeds are growing there" vs "How much weed is growing there"
  4. "I'm going to get rid of twice the weeds" vs "I'm going to get rid of twice the weed"
  5. "Here are two types of weeds" vs "Here are two types of weed"

Basically, the two words are treated completely different grammatically. I was wondering how in particular the two words are categorized that links to their different treatment. (e.g. maybe one is a proper noun, and the other is not [I know that's not the case, but it's just an example of the kind of answer I'm looking for]). Or is this just some weird slang thing that only applies to the drug "weed"?

P.S.: I swear I'm not high while asking this question >.<. The impetus was actually because an anime brought up "happa", which could either mean "leaf" or "weed" in Japanese, and I wasn't sure which they were referring to. And then I got down this line of thinking >.<.

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    This is the difference between count nouns and noncount nouns (also known as "mass nouns").
    – alphabet
    Oct 20, 2023 at 5:05

1 Answer 1

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Weed - Marijuana - (chiefly uncountable) is what is known as a material noun. Its name is its definition.

Definition of Material Noun

The noun that gives the sense of a liquid/substance, that which is measured or weighed but not counted, from which various things are made, is called a material noun.

Material nouns are uncountable. They usually have an equivalent, but rarer, countable, common noun:

Uncountable: He was arrested in possession of 2 kilos of weed/marijuana.

Countable (rare): "Canadian and American weeds do not differ much in strength."

Compare

Uncountable: He was arrested in possession of 2 kilos of coffee.

Countable (somewhat rare): "Arabic and Robusta coffees do not differ much in strength."

As far as "weed - unwanted plant" is concerned, it is chiefly a common noun and thus countable:

"He has a garden full of weeds."

but is infrequently used as an uncountable noun.

"Weed in the crop will reduce the yield."

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  • I would say "Canadian and American weed does not differ in strength"; the gravity well of the plural drops the noun immediately into the other sense of the term.
    – Robusto
    Oct 20, 2023 at 16:13
  • I would say "Canadian and American weed does not differ in strength" It is, of course, quite possible to say that but the other version is possible too. You must bear in mind that this is an example: it may be "somewhat rare" - as I have noted - but it is possible.
    – Greybeard
    Oct 21, 2023 at 7:55

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