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Jim: I cannot use Linkedin! It is blocked!
Tim: You can use friGate, it's a nice addon that will help you.
Jim: I've just installed it, and it works. Thank you for the good advice!

I wonder if this use of the is natural here. "Advice" is a noncount noun, so it cannot take a. I searched on Google Books and it looks like it can take the in "the good advice".

But will that mean "thank you for the good piece of advice", or will that mean generally "thank you for being so helpful with your advice" (which may consist of many discrete instances of "advice")?

Let me explain my request with an example: what if during the conversation several different pieces of advice were given, on wildly different matters? Would "Thank you for the good advice!" refer to them all, or only to the latest piece of advice in the conversation?

  • the is natural and refers to the advice you were given, the recommendation and any ancillary tips or info. advice is semantically equivalent to counsel, though wider in its applicability. Recommendation would be good here. If the recommendation had included some additional information, e.g. "It has issues with Internet Explorer" then it becomes "advice". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 7 '17 at 17:39
  • @TRomano - what if during the conversation several different pieces of advice on different matters were given? Would "Thank you for the good advice!" refer to them all, or only to the latest piece of advice in the conversation? – CowperKettle Jan 7 '17 at 17:44
  • Would they all be related to the same general context? Or is one of the items far afield, e.g. the best month to plant tomatoes? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 7 '17 at 17:44
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    No, it's not that specific (i.e. only the latest). advice could encompass the various bits of advice on different subjects. I will enlarge my answer below. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 7 '17 at 17:50
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6

Thanks for the advice

is typical when the speaker assumes that the listener(s) will be familiar with which or what advice is being discussed, whether we have in mind one item of advice or several.

We use a and the to introduce "uncountable" or mass nouns when they are implicitly or explicitly divided into units.

Thanks for the milk.

Or in Russian:

Thanks for the vodka.

We would normally use TRomano's perfectly natural alternative Thanks for all the advice when we wish to emphasize that a lot of something was given, or to specifically acknowledge multiple pieces of such.

So, Thanks for all the milk carries a different connotation.

Also, we use no article to introduce uncountable nouns when we talk about a thing in general:

Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/samueltayl100590.html

  • How "advice" was implicitly or explicitly divided into units in this example? – Ahmad Jan 8 '17 at 16:20
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    @Ahm Eat well, sleep well, love well. We can think of that as three pieces of advice. But in We all benefit from receiving advice sometimes, we think of advice as the name for one thing. – Jim Reynolds Jan 8 '17 at 16:59
  • @Ahm In the example, the suggestion is one piece or part out of all things that belong to the thing called advice. – Jim Reynolds Jan 8 '17 at 17:03
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If the conversation included advice on sundry topics:

Thank you for all the advice.

The phrase "all the advice" acknowledges that the advice dealt with sundry topics or was in some other way wide-ranging or in-depth.

P.S. "Thank you for the advice" is also perfectly acceptable but "all the advice" acknowledges (in gratitude) that the advice has addressed multiple issues or multiple facets of an issue.

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I'm not really sure whether taking "the" off is ungrammatical or not, it seems so to me, but if not, someone correct me, please.

"the" refers to the advice that your friend gave you, which is: You can use friGate, it's a nice add-on that will help you. It may be considered to be advice, since it was a useful opinion and recommendation. Taking "the" off would make it sound weird, as "the" is the definite article, which implies to mean that you were definitively referring to the advice your friend gave to you.

Check out these two forms: Thank you for recommending that app to me! - Thank you for 'THE good advice' = recommending that app.

If you took "the" off, it might mean any advice, not a specific one, and you were specifically referring to the advice your friend gave to you, which was the recommendation of the app. See:

  • You: Thank you for advice, Paul!

  • Paul: What advice are you talking about? I have given you many ones.

  • You: 'The' one about the app you gave me yesterday. The one = The recommendation.

So, according to the definite article rule, I'd write it this way:

Thank you for the good advice!

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    Unlike Italian or Spanish, in English the noun advice is uncountable, so to make it numerable it needs another word in front, such as "piece of" or "bit of". Otherwise your answer is good. – Mari-Lou A Jan 7 '17 at 18:59
  • Zero article before “advice”, “fish and chips”, “lunch” I think you can post an answer here saying that the definite article can be used in certain circumstances. ☺ – Mari-Lou A Jan 7 '17 at 19:04
  • Was it a question or an answer? It suits more a question titled "how to refer to a specific uncountable noun" and it seems the answe is "we should refer to its unit"... – Ahmad Jan 8 '17 at 16:08
  • @Mari-LouA in my question (opened today) I said using "piece" before "advice" seems redundant and it may be ignored in future. This question was an example of my prediction. However, the answerer commonly advised me to stick the rules and don't try to know why... – Ahmad Jan 8 '17 at 16:16
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A boat.

The boat.

While the boat is a specific boat, a boat could be any boat at all. So if you say thank you for the good advice, you mean the specific piece of advice. Had you instead said

Thank you for good advice

You could have meant all the good advice you just recieved. I would have avoided phrasing it that way, though. Instead, I would have used "thank you for your good advice", instead of "thank you for good advice".

The "the" is natural.

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