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I learned that the word “stock” is uncountable when used to mean “the goods or merchandise kept on the premises of a business or warehouse and available for sale or distribution“ as in “This item is out of stock.” However, I saw a sentence “we have a large stock of them” in which “stock” seems to be used as countable noun. Does this mean “stock” can be used as both countable and uncountable?

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  • In your example "We have a large stock of them”, "stock" is non-count. What makes you think it's countable?
    – BillJ
    Nov 30, 2020 at 9:27
  • I thought it’s countable because there’s “a” in front of “large stock”.
    – Rio
    Nov 30, 2020 at 15:50

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Yes, it can be countable - but note that if you have a large stock of widgets and someone else has a large stock of widgets that they give to you, you still only have one stock of widgets- it is just a larger stock. So for them to be countable, it has to be two different types of thing, or at least in two different places, or differing in some important way. An example.

A retailer sold us their stock of widgets, and we added it to our own stock of widgets. Combining the two stocks of widgets created a large stock of widgets.

Ask yourself who or what has the stock:

The people in the neighborhood all had large stocks of bottled water. Each person in the neighborhood had a large stock of bottled water.

But even your own stock can be divided. These are both fine:

We kept a large stock of nails and shingles.

We kept large stocks of nails and shingles.

In particular, using it countably is better if the goods are very different to each other. Also I'll point out there is a somewhat archaic meaning of "stocks" - sort of a crude precursor to handcuffs, to be brief. And, of course, there is the usage in the financial world.

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  • I think you should provide an example of "stock" being used as a count noun.
    – BillJ
    Nov 30, 2020 at 9:25
  • Good idea, thanks. Dec 1, 2020 at 6:08

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