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I've seen the phrase "A curiosity about the incident."

I do understand the curisosity has to do with the incident, but how can curiosity be countable in the first place?

Can I also say

a hatred against his rival

which I think gives a way to

hatreds against his rival

If so, is emotion and feeling countable?

When I say "I have emotion", is it different from "I have an emotion"?

  • It's more common to see "a certain curiosity", as in " a certain amount of curiosity". "Hatred" is normally "of" rather than "against". Again, it would generally be modified as "a strong/pure hatred" although "a hatred" is perfectly acceptable noun as an alternative to "hate". (sentence.yourdictionary.com/hatred). To say "I have emotion" is not idiomatic. "I have an emotion," is grammatically correct if unusual. – Ronald Sole Sep 29 '16 at 20:14
  • Curiosity, hatred, sadness, love, joy, peace, etc can be both countable and uncountable. – Alan Carmack Sep 29 '16 at 20:26
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    I had an elementary school teacher who loved to make true-false questions using "a" and "the". Think of "a reason" and "the reason." "A reason" indicates that there are more reasons than just one. "The reason" indicates that there is only one reason. – MaxW Sep 29 '16 at 21:30
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"Curiosity", "hatred", and (I think) nouns for other emotional states are not countable. However, these emotions can be figuratively associated with things, and those are countable. For example:

"In his youth, he had many loves."

"The hate he had for his oppressors was nothing compared with the hate he had for those who collaborated with them."

"Her children were foremost of the many joys she had in her long life."

This is not really counting emotions, but more counting the things associated with those emotions -- not "many loves" but actually "many people that he loved"; not "two hates", but "two things that he hated"; not "many joys" but "many things she felt joy for".

I've not heard this used with "curiosity" (as an emotional state) but it's possible. Your second example "hatreds against his rival" isn't wrong but still doesn't make sense because how could someone be hated more than once?

All that being said, it is possible to see plural emotions used in slang for humorous effect. For example, "I haz sads," or, "Full of happies!" or, "On Mondays, the blahs always win."

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Whether curiosity is considered countable or not depends on the context. Consider The Old Curiosity Shop (a shop full of curiosities, or curios), a novel by Charles Dickens where the heroine, Nell, lives in such a shop. Here, curiosity is countable since you can have one or more curios.

In the context in which you are using it, curiosity is uncountable, as is hatred.

Curiosity (Oxford Living Dictionary)

  1. [mass noun] A strong desire to know or learn something.
  2. An unusual or interesting object or fact.
  • But isn't this really a different definition of "curiosity", in the same way that a "rage" is a different definition from the emotion of "rage"? Or am I just splitting hairs? – Andrew Sep 29 '16 at 21:40
  • That's right, it can be a countable or uncountable noun and of course the meanings are different. That's the whole point of the question, which Mark Sharpe has answered very CLEARLY. – Lambie Sep 30 '16 at 0:35

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