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Road is countable and uncountable noun. (see Cambridge)

ex. The traffic on the road was quite bad.

Definite article [the] is placed before road. As per the rule the can be placed before countable and uncountable noun.

Traffic is an uncountable noun , so it can be understood.

  • "Road" can be non-count in expressions like "the road to ruin"; "I'm going by road". – BillJ Jun 29 '18 at 18:05
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    The use or non-use of the has nothing to do with whether a noun is countable or not, it just defines whether or not we're talking about a specific thing or not. For example sand is a non-count noun, but you can easily say "the sand". – stangdon Jun 29 '18 at 18:05
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    @BillJ, your second sentence is a good example; it's worth nothing, though, that it includes no article. Your "road to ruin" example, I would say, is actually countable; even though it's an abstract concept, it is talking about a specific road, implying there are others. – ScottM Jun 29 '18 at 18:19
  • Yes. The road to ruin is just one road. The road to riches is another. – Michael Harvey Jun 29 '18 at 19:08
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Let's start off by saying that English probably has more exceptions than rules. Keeping that in mind: Uncountable nouns do not usually have a plural form. Road has "roads", so it is countable. There is no plural for Traffic, so it is not countable.

(It's absolutely fine if you want to stop reading at this point to avoid confusion. But to be thorough, I include the following.)


As for exceptions, some uncountable words have plural forms. Water is uncountable, but you can sail uncharted waters. The thing is, those plural forms are usually rare and confined to a specific definition. "Waters" in this sense would refer to seas and oceans. (You might also hear people order "two waters" to drink. That's just a lazy way of saying two bottles or cups of water.)

Some countable nouns can also be uncountable in context. I am going to New York by train. Train is usually a countable noun, but in this case it is being used as an abstract method of travel, not a particular vehicle.

But if you ignore those exceptions and just follow the general rule I said at the beginning, you will almost always be correct.

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    There's water dripping from the ceiling. We are sailing in international waters. (But you would never say We sailed in two international waters. It remains uncountable.) I'm intrigued to see if you can take this into account in your answer. – Jason Bassford Jun 29 '18 at 19:30
  • @JasonBassford, Updated, and I get that we want to be accurate and thorough, but this kind of < 1% usage IMO overly complicates issues for beginners. – ScottM Jun 29 '18 at 19:44
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    @ScottM - I don’t subscribe to the notion that we should avoid making things “overly complicated for beginners.” When we ignore the exceptions to the rules in our answers, learners get confused when they inevitably encounter those exceptions in literature. It’s best to tell them the whole story; plus, such exceptions are often the most interesting parts of English. Oh, and waters could indeed be used for Dasani and Ozarka – if we happened to be in a café. Waiter: Can I get you anything to drink? Me: We’d like two waters; she would like a Dasani, and I’d like an Ozarka, if you have them. – J.R. Jul 1 '18 at 10:47
  • @J.R., We will have to agree to disagree. You are correct that "waters" is also a colloquial term for bottles of water. But I believe it only emphasizes my point that by getting into the exceptions we risk paralysis by analysis. Sure, they may now be aware of something they might overhear, but now they are more confused as to which one to actually use because was this one of the exceptions? And it's an unnecessary dilemma because "bottles of water" is perfectly acceptable. But I will make the edit. – ScottM Jul 1 '18 at 14:16

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