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  1. I think he felt discouraged because of all the criticism he'd received.

  2. His report contained serious criticisms of the finance director and of the entire board of management.

  3. I didn't mean it as a criticism.

Hi, there. I am very confused about this word "criticism". Sometimes it appears in a sentence in the singular form, while other times it may be plural. So I wonder when to use its singular form and when to use its plural form.

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Good question. "Criticism" may have either a specific or a general sense.

"I think he felt discouraged by all the crticism he'd received" implies the general sense. He received a number of unfavorable observations, but it was the cumulative effect of their number that has discouraged him, not any specific one.

In the second example, what is being stressed is that there were more than one specific unfavorable observations. We are dealing with the combination of specificity and numerousity.

In the third example, we are again dealing with specific sense, but not a plural sense.

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