What is the thing in the picture - a scaffold or a scaffolding? Could I use both about it without problems?

enter image description here

I have read this: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/208149/is-there-a-difference-between-scaffold-and-scaffolding - but I'm still not sure.


1 Answer 1


The both generally mean the same thing, however scaffold is a count noun, whereas scaffolding is a mass noun.

The particular word you use will determine the possible construction of the sentence you use it with:

  • ✔ It is a scaffold.
  • ✔ It is one scaffold.
  • ✘ It is a scaffolding.
  • ✘ It is one scaffolding.

  • ✔ It is scaffolding.
  • ✔ It is an example of scaffolding.
  • ✘ It is scaffold.
  • ✘ It is an example of scaffold.

Note that while I said they generally mean the same thing, there can be a more subtle difference between them. It depends on your interpretation, and what particular component of the structure in the picture you're referring to when you say "the thing."

That subtle difference is what's answered in the other question that was referenced.

For the sake of completeness, here are the full definitions of the two words according to Merriam-Webster.


1 a : a temporary or movable platform for workers (such as bricklayers, painters, or miners) to stand or sit on when working at a height above the floor or ground
1 b : a platform on which a criminal is executed (as by hanging or beheading)
1 c : a platform at a height above ground or floor level
2 c : a supporting framework


: a system of scaffolds
also : material for scaffolds

  • A scaffold is often understood to mean the same as 'gallows'. Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 20:07
  • @MichaelHarvey I've updated my answer. It can mean that, but I would say it often doesn't. (That might be regional or a matter of opinion, though.) Note that, according to Merriam-Webster, scaffolding could also be interpreted as a system of gallows … Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 20:58
  • I would say that in the UK, the primary meaning of scaffold is a place of execution. Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 7:29
  • I'd like to ask about the difference when they are used in educational context. The following content is from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 7:02
  • -Definition: a system or framework of support provided by an instructor to help a student reach the next level of learning -Example: By identifying the next skills just above the child's current skill level, then providing scaffolding (or assistance) in a way that helps the child display the identified skills accurately, and then fading out the need for scaffolding, you can help a child to learn new things and become more independent. Can I use a scaffold or scaffolds instead in the above example? Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 7:05

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