Can I turn the word vocabulary into a countable noun?

For example:

She is an exquisite student who possesses a considerable passive vocabulary that enables her to understand the most of the lesson

  • "most of the lesson" not "the most".
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:16
  • The word vocabulary in particular sentence would not take a plural. But the answers below are good. Where have you seen that it is not countable?
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:39
  • Are you asking about the use of the indefinite article a as in She speaks an impeccable English? We don't have "extensive vocabulary" but "an extensive vocabulary". But "Class, this week, we will review vocabulary".
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:56
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo So, if I got your point, if it's someone's stock of words of some language in his personal memory, I should use "a/an", but if it's just some collection of words of some language, then it's just uncountable "vocabulary", right?
    – brilliant
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 1:47
  • 1
    This cake is made with flour. There, "flour" refers to the substance generally. The bakery uses a number of flours, among them rye flour, wheat flour, buckwheat flour, and rice flour. There, flours refers to varieties of flour. The same principle can be applied to vocabulary. The word can refer in general terms to the set of words possessed by any and every speaker of a language. The chimp Panbanisha had a 3000-word vocabulary. Or it can refer to some circumstance involving differences among specific vocabularies, of different speakers, say, or of different groups.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 11:44

3 Answers 3


Another way to ask this is if vocabulary can be the plural vocabularies. Your spell checker should already tell you this is a valid word. Some examples:

One solution to the final problem presented in the previous section is to organise the terms into a taxonomy. Taxonomic vocabularies are systems in which concepts are related using hierarchical relations ...

... the NAA which has, in addition to photographs, manuscripts, field notes, sound tapes, linguistic data, and other documents including vocabularies of Indian and Inuit languages and drawings.

Vocabularies appears mostly in academic and technical writing, and would not normally be used in casual conversation. The singular is also slightly formal, but more common:

Those who dive deep into the culinary world learn that chefs have developed a sophisticated vocabulary to talk about food and food preparation.

She has a good vocabulary, but her grammar needs work.


vocabulary can be pluralized.

The vocabularies of elementary school students in rural and urban districts were compared.


vocabulary already is a countable noun.

The definition of vocabulary, is a collection of words. For ease of understanding, try mentally replacing "words" with "fruit". Any grammar rules that apply to collections, also apply to vocabulary. Consider the following sentences, and see if they still make sense to you if you replace "collection" and "apple" with "vocabulary" and "word":

Can you have two kinds of collections? Yes, you can have a collection of apples, and a collection of oranges. Can you have two collections of apples? Certainly; this is my collection of green apples, and over there is my collection of red apples. How big is your collection? My collection has 314 apples in it.

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