Wiktionary says that "command" is always countable, with no exceptions given. However, I've seen both "a command" and "command":

The fort has command of the valley

The tower provides a wide command of the neighboring hills

A good command of French

Hence the question: should I put the article?

  • 2
    If Wiktionary says that, then Wiktionary is wrong. Find a better dictionary; see e.g. OALD. But WIktionary doesn't say that.
    – choster
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


The concrete noun "command" as a synonym for an order, edict, or imperative given to someone is always countable:

He uses different commands to control his dog's behavior.

The general gave three different commands to his lieutenants before the battle began.

However, the abstract noun "command" can also be synonymous with authority, knowledge, or domain of control. When used in that sense, it is not countable, as in the examples you provided:

He has a good command of English.

The tower provides a wide command of the neighboring hills.

I highlight the distinction of concrete vs. abstract usage, because abstract nouns are often not countable as a general rule.

  • Thank you for answering the question, just one thing that's still unclear to me: you maintain that the abstract word is uncountable, however in the last two examples you provided here for the abstract usage, the word "command" is actually countable. Could you please clarify this odd?
    – Rusty
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 5:48
  • One abstract usage of command is the second set of examples I give above, where a verb like "to have" or "to provide" can be used with "a command" in the ways I show. You could argue this is countable because it has the preceding indefinite article, but in reality you can't use a plural with this construction.
    – semperos
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:32
  • The example you give "The fort has command of the valley" is a different abstract usage of "command" that is uncountable and does not have even the indefinite article preceding it. Whereas the example I give in my answer has to do with authority, knowledge, or domain of control, this fort example has to do with literal, military command. Similar sentences would be "I have command of this ship" or "The general is in command of the troops" (where "in command" is a set phrase as well).
    – semperos
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .