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From Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary:

[count] computer cables

[noncount] We need more cable to hook up the computers.

What's the difference between the countable "cable" and the uncountable "cable"?

I never knew that "cable" can be uncountable because a cable is always in the shape of a string. So I don't understand why "cable" can be uncountable.

Thanks in advance.

  • You can think of it as a material in the uncounable sense. You need more cable, more gold, more stone, etc. In that case, cable's physical quantity is length, measured in, say, meters, or feet. – user3395 Jun 18 '18 at 9:32
  • It appears to mean an unspecified amount, or at least a non standard amount. With cables you have a number of cables so you can have three cables or four. In the second example we have a generic value of "more" which is not that helpful but perhaps the details of how much cable will be needed don't need to be known at that point, just a note that cables will be needed later. – Daniel Jun 18 '18 at 12:24
  • Actually, you're right that "cable" is like "string." The word "string" has both countable and uncountable definitions, just like "cable." – Canadian Yankee Jun 18 '18 at 17:56
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It's only really uncountable when you're talking about its length. In most situations, it's countable.

We need more cable to hook up the computers.

The cable isn't long enough, we need more of it.

Practically in this situation, you need a different, longer cable, but just for the sake of this exercise let's assume you will extend it by some method

We need more cables to hook up the computers.

We need three cables, we only have two.

Cable comes on 100m rolls, from which you can make up your own cables.

Ready-made cables come in packs of six.

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