From Cambridge Dictionary

This movie is good family entertainment.

According to the dictionary, "entertainment" can be both an uncountable noun and a countable noun.

Is this sentence grammatically correct and natural?

This movie is good a family entertainment.

In other words, when "entertainment" serves as a countable noun, does the whole sentence mean the same thing as the quotation?

Ngram Viewer shows "a family entertainment" is in use.

  • It's a good entertainment is "credible", but sounds to me more like something a German would say (same as they usually say That's a good software, whereas native Anglophones mostly avoid the article there). Jun 29, 2020 at 16:50
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica Does "credible" here mean "acceptable"?
    – RobertH
    Jun 30, 2020 at 0:41
  • I mean just about acceptable, as opposed to "perfectly okay". That's to say if I heard a native speaker use the form, I wouldn't necessarily assume he had made a mistake. But if I saw it written down and didn't know anything about the authorship, I'd assume it was a mistake made by a (possibly German) non-native speaker. You should not make a habit of using constructions labelled "credible" yourself. Just don't take it for granted they're "incorrect" if you occasionally see/hear others use them. Jun 30, 2020 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


First of all, the second sentence requires a minor correction. The article should come before the adjective:

? This movie is a good family entertainment.

But, with that correction, it would still be unusual.

It would be just as unusual as the following:

? These movies are two good family entertainments.

Any use of the count version in such a sentence is unusual enough to probably be corrected by someone.

To use an article in this sense would require inserting something else that's being counted instead:

✔ This movie is a good example of family entertainment.
✔ These movies are two good examples of family entertainment.

If you look at an actual example of a family entertainment that Google Ngram Viewer points to, you see that it's not being used as a noun but as part of an adjectival phrase (emphasis mine):

An example of a family entertainment attraction at a shopping mall today is Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America in Minneapolis …

It works in that context, because what's being counted is attraction, not entertainment.

Another example:

The Wind in the Willows: A Family Entertainment

Here, it's part of the title of a book. Titles and heading often don't follow normal rules of grammar.

Note that this isn't actually ungrammatical. But in other contexts, it would certainly be unusual.


It's true that "entertainment" can either be countable or uncountable, but the two uses are not interchangeable.

Usually we use "entertainment" as an uncountable noun. "This movie is good entertainment." "For entertainment Bob likes to torture small animals." Etc.

The only examples I can think of for using "entertainment" as a countable noun are when identifying a source of entertainment at a specific time or event. Like, "The entertainment tonight will be provided by the Smith Band", or, "At the fair the main entertainment was the livestock show."

Even though it's "countable", I don't recall ever hearing it used with a count of more than one. I mean, I don't recall ever hearing someone say, "There were two entertainments." Possible, I guess, maybe if you searched hard enough you could find examples.

No one says, "This movie is a good family entertainment". We say, "This movie is good family entertainment."

Basically, use the uncountable version except if you are saying "the entertainment was ..." or similar wording.

  • 2
    Aren't all of your examples uncountable? You don't say "an entertainment tonight will be provided by the Smith Band" or "an entertainment was the livestock show."
    – user253751
    Jun 30, 2020 at 10:27
  • "water" is a collective noun, so compare with: "The water was provided by Aquafina" (good), "A water was provided by Aquafina" (bad), "A pallet of water was provided by Aquafina" (good)
    – user253751
    Jun 30, 2020 at 10:28
  • @user253751 No, we don't say "an entertainment", but we do say, "the entertainment". I'm also hard pressed to think of any case of someone saying, "One entertainment was ..."
    – Jay
    Jun 30, 2020 at 14:45
  • @user253751 Though you could say, ,"Waiter, I'd like a water."
    – Jay
    Jun 30, 2020 at 14:46

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