2

It is from this video. It is at around 8 minute and 34 second. Here is the context:

The paper even cites a case from the 1691 where a pregnant woman consumed, by actual count, 1,400 salted herrings during her pregnancy.

I feel it means it was actually counted, if I am right, then why did the host omit the article a before the phrase actual count?

2

The phrase by actual count there is not referring to an instance of counting but to a mode of counting, enumeration versus estimation or extrapolation.

When referring to the mode of something, an article is not used.

Compare:

They went by train.

  • Sorry, I cannot get it. Could you please rephrase the answer? – Dmytro O'Hope Sep 4 '18 at 16:43
  • @Dmytro O'Hope: What don't you get? Do you know what mode means? As in "mode of transport"? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 4 '18 at 16:44
  • If it was said that the woman ate 500 kilos of fish, then could I say the woman ate, by mass, 500 kilos of fish? – Dmytro O'Hope Sep 4 '18 at 16:47
  • 1
    We can say This carton is packaged by weight not by volume. You could say "by actual weight" to distinguish the mode of measurement from estimates or using average weight of a fish, etc. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 4 '18 at 16:54

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