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Most grammar sources and Grammarly app say that uncountable nouns can not be used in plural form! However, what about the case when we talk about different types of uncountable noun?

For example, let us take water! Water can be of many type sugary water, tap water, sludge water, desalinated water, RO water, tube-well water, coloured water and what not. Can't I then use waters in this context?

Let's take another example - Hunger!

Hunger can be of many types - hunger for food, hunger for success, spiritual hunger, hunger for money, hunger for fame and so on! Can't I use hungers then when referring to these many types of hungers?

This is true for most of the abstract/uncountable nouns!

I, particularly, was baffled when Grammarly labeled the following sentence of mine as grammatically wrong. "It is highly difficult to achieve that stability and harmony which is needed for success in spiritual world without satiating our worldly desires, hungers". Grammarly wants to change hungers to hunger. While I mean various kinds of hunger as mentioned above.

Please have a look at the opinion of a linguist on Quora on this subject! https://qr.ae/TWtuBd

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It is a tricky one, because there is something quite poetic about your use of hungers in the plural, as synonym for needs or desires.

If you were intending a poetic or lyrical quality in this writing, then I agree that both the comma and your use of plural hungers is absolutely fine, as it strengthens your description of "worldly desires"; however, if you are writing more formal documentation or a drier prose, I would drop both those poetic constructs and end the sentence at "...worldly desires."

You will find similar things of waters. There is a proverb—"Still waters run deep"—but a proverb is another example of a poetic form.

Typically, you append -s to those words when they are appropriate as verbs and you are using them as such, e.g. "He hungers for flesh" or "She waters the plants".

(I was about to suggest sheep as an example of an uncountable noun where the rule-of-thumb holds true—you cannot have sheeps—but I see that your Quora poster has already this)

I am not a user of Grammarly, but I would guess that poetry is not its primary focus.

  • Thanks! In fact, your answer has quite underscored one point. It reminds me of Wittgeinstein. Language is as we use it. Many a times, Its correctness depends on the context. So, in English, grammar changes with the context in which we use. I would try to avoid plural uncountable noun in formal settings. However, it's funny that I tend to use these "poetic" constructions quite frequently. I am not able to judge their strangeness even in a normal usage. To me it's unfathomable that I can use 'desires' but not 'hungers'. Can you suggest me a way how to pinpoint the difference? – Prince Kadyan Jul 3 at 17:11
  • @PrinceKadyan : I don't think I know of a specific rule. There are just some words that work and some that don't, and I know them when I read/hear them. Some can be both uncountable in quantity but countable as variants (such as cheese, cheeses). You may simply have to refer to a list (not that I have such a list). – jimbobmcgee Jul 4 at 12:43
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Uncountable nouns not being used in plural form is a general rule-of-thumb, but in the right context (like the examples you mentioned) can definitely be used as such.

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