I came across it in this article.

Chloe Foster, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma in London, says shyness in itself is quite common and normal and doesn’t cause problems unless it develops into more of a social anxiety.

Why is there an indefinite article before social anxiety? Anxiety is an uncountable noun, and I had always seen social anxiety as a mental disorder being used as uncountable. Does these all mean that after the phrase more of we need to use the indefinite article before uncountable nouns?

2 Answers 2


Many nouns can be both countable and uncountable, depending on context.

An uncountable noun refers to an idea or a concept. A countable noun refers to a specific thing. So for example, I might say, "I like chocolate." I like chocolate in general. It's not that I like one particular piece of chocolate, but that I like chocolate in general. But if you were handing out candy and offered several varieties, say chocolate, caramel, and fruit bar, I might say, "I'd like a chocolate." I want one of the specific candies that is chocolate.

Same thing here. It would have been equally grammatically correct for the psychologist to have said "... develops into social anxiety." That is, "social anxiety" is a general concept. Shyness, which apparently she does not think is necessarily an example of social anxiety, could become one. But it wouldn't become just any kind of social anxiety. It wouldn't become fear of open spaces or fear of cats. It would become one particular kind of social anxiety, namely, an extreme form of shyness. It doesn't become social anxiety in general, it becomes one particular kind or example of social anxiety. That is, it becomes "a" social anxiety.

If the paragraph had not used an article, if it had said "... develops into social anxiety", a reader might possibly interpret that to mean that shyness can become all sorts of social anxiety, or can become social anxiety in general. I think most readers would guess that that was not what was meant. But that wouldn't be an impossible thing for someone to say.

The difference can be subtle, I freely admit.


“Social anxiety” is an umbrella term and encompasses all different kinds of anxiety in social settings. Since it’s unspecific, “a” is correct and needed here. If you took out “more of,” the article would still be correct. And in contexts like this, “more of” does need to be followed by an article.


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