This is the sentence I came across, it's from a game.

While Dwarven cannon were being loaded, others armed themselves with Elven steel and mail.

To my understanding, themselves is a plural word, so steel and mail should also be in plural form, why they use singular instead???

EDIT: I looked up the word steel as the meaning of sword and it said the word is countable. enter image description here

Here is the link.

  • In your sentence, steel and mail are uncountable nouns. Compare it with this: I will buy you apples, juice and water. Jun 6, 2018 at 17:50
  • @Michael Rybkin See my edit pls.
    – preachers
    Jun 6, 2018 at 17:57
  • 1
    Personally, I'd worry more about the sentence itself, the structure of which makes it problematic. I'd be more inclined to write while some loaded Dwarven cannon, others armed themselves with Elven steel and mail in order to maintain proper parallelism. Alternatively, while Dwarven cannon were being loaded, Elven steel and mail was being used as armament. As it is, the sentence is incorrectly pieced together. Jun 6, 2018 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


In the sentence "steel" and "mail" are being used as uncountable nouns.

You note that "a steel" is also (rarely) used as a countable noun, nevertheless, in this sentence it is being used as uncountable. In this context "steel" means weaponry, and weaponry is usually uncountable.

"Mail" is a type of armour, made of interlocking loops of metal. It is also usually uncountable.

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