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Furniture is uncountable, so you say "A piece of furniture" but where do I put the qualifier?

Which one of those sentences is correct:

This is a piece of self-assembly furniture

This is a self-assembly piece of furniture

Or maybe

This is self-assembly furniture

I find it easier with "an important piece of information" vs "a piece of important information", which both seem correct to me (with slight nuances), but "self-assembly furniture" seems less flexible to me.


"Self-assembly" seem to be a problem, so what is the correct way to use a qualifier if it's "beautiful", "ancient" or "well-designed"?

I feel like both "a beautiful piece of furniture" and "a piece of ancient furniture" are correct, an I wrong? (tell me if I'm getting to far from the original question, it's hard to tell if it's related or not from my point of view)

  • A piece of chocolate cake. Not "an apple slice of pie". A big piece of pie, however, is OK. So the answer depends on the type of adjective, whether it pertains to the main noun or to the partitive. A large lot of small parts – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 10 '17 at 12:22
  • @TRomano Fair enough. My question is really about uncoutables that use "piece", like "a piece of news", "a piece of information", "a piece of advice". It's easy for "a slice", but here, it's not obvious if I need to qualify only "furniture" or "piece of furniture". They are countable in my language so it's not easy to see them as uncountable, none of the options feels "natural" to me. – Teleporting Goat Feb 10 '17 at 13:30
  • Again, it depends on the adjective, whether it applies to the noun or to "piece". A piece of shiny metal or a shiny piece of metal are both OK. But a non-ferrous piece of metal is not quite OK. You'd want to say "a piece of non-ferrous metal". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 10 '17 at 13:56
  • An interesting piece of information; a big piece of chocolate cake;a good piece of advice; a pretty piece of furniture – Lambie Feb 10 '17 at 17:47
  • They are all acceptable. This is not a partitive construction since the complement of the prep "of" is an indefinite NP. A partitive would be "A piece of the self-assembly furniture"; quite inappropriate here. Think of "piece" as meaning "item", thus "an item of self-assembly furniture" or "a self-assembly item of furniture". They mean the same. – BillJ Feb 10 '17 at 18:41
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In the UK, we would say "This is flat-pack furniture". "Self-assembly" is rarely used as a term to describe furniture. And we wouldn't include "piece of" anywhere.

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  • So you'll go with the third option ? Assuming I want to use "self-assembly". You'd just say "this is furniture" / "this chair is great furniture" ? – Teleporting Goat Feb 10 '17 at 11:30
  • In the US, we'd say "This furniture requires assembly", or "This furniture is not pre-assembled". – Davo Feb 10 '17 at 13:10
  • DIY assembly. We would not say this furniture at all here. We'd say: this table requires assembly; or self-assembly or DIY-assemby table, chest of drawers, bed etc. We would say what the piece of furniture actually is, in instructions; or this dining set requires assembly. – Lambie Feb 10 '17 at 17:49
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Stylistically, I prefer: DIY-assembly furniture to self-assembly furniture or flatpack furniture. Those are titles one sees in advertising, etc. and would be:

Self-assembly furniture [no piece]; DIY-assembly furniture

However, the sentence (which you posted in French originally) about a single piece of furniture would be written differently in an article about furniture. Adjectives like beautiful would only be found in a description. Not in instructions or titles.

As writing, there are many ways to actually write the idea.

Description in an article: - This beautiful piece is self-assembly furniture.
- This self-assembly piece is beautiful. [no need for furniture as the article is about furniture, for example].

- Other ways I can't think of right this minute.

Having said that, in English, one would usually avoid: This is [etc.] for this context. /This is etc./ would be "stylistically" and "descriptively" weak.

So, context is everything. "Resistance is futile".

Added later: In English, we would tend to name the piece of furniture in instructions: DIY-assembly table or bed or chest of drawers. DIY-assembly of bedroom set (bed, dresser and whop-knows-what)

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