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I know that "legislation" is almost always used in its uncountable form.

legislation: a law or set of laws suggested by a government and made official by a parliament

But what about in the following case? Let's say there are 13 provinces and territories in a country, each with its own provincial government and ministries.

When it comes to minerals/mining/natural resources, these provinces each have a dedicated ministry and a dedicated Act (or laws). Although these acts have the same purpose (i.e., they describe the laws related to recourses), they are named differently:

Let's say Province 1 has a legislation called "Mineral Tax Act"
Province 2, 5, and 8 = "Mines and Minerals Act"
Province 3 and 7 = "Mineral Resources Act"
Province 10 = "Mining Act"

You get the idea. They also have different names for other laws, e.g., "Education Act", "Schools and Universities Act", etc.

In this case, is it fair to write "legislations"?

We need to collect data from the ministry websites and the mineral resources legislations of all 13 provinces and territories.

I think that using the uncountable "legislation" here would indicate that there is just one Act (or set of laws) for all 13 provinces and territories.

If this is ambiguous, what would be a clear way to write this? Also note that I am writing "mineral resources" here as a broader term to capture all the acts that are essentially the same but named differently.

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  • Why not just say "laws"? – Matt Timmermans Mar 13 at 23:39
  • @MattTimmermans "Laws" are not strictly laws set by government bodies. "Laws" would also include laws set by communities or organizations. – AIQ Mar 13 at 23:49
  • If you want to say legislation, you would say "the mineral resource legislation of all 13 provinces and territories". It doesn't mean the all have the same laws, and in fact implies that the legislation varies by province and territory. – Matt Timmermans Mar 14 at 0:44
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According to the Cambridge Dictionary, legislation is uncountable: we don't normally use plurals for uncountable nouns. There are, however, exceptions, for example when we talk about different types of an uncountable noun. Cheese is uncountable, but you could still say

The cheeses of France

This would refer to the different types types of cheese from each part of France. If you go into more detail about why you are using the plural, and that detail uses the word each, it is no longer necessary to use the plural:

The cheeses of all regions of France.
The cheese from each region of France.

Your sentence is a valid use of the plural, and it provides enough information about why you are using the plural. If you are concerned that people may nit-pick, you can use each, and then the plural is not necessary.

We need to collect data from the ministry websites and the mineral resources legislation for each of the 13 provinces and territories.


Note that your sentence uses parallel structures, and I feel that it needs a little adjustment to make it clear what you mean. As it stands, the only place that you can de-parallel the sentence is after collect, giving:

We need to collect --- data from the ministry websites.
We need to collect --- the mineral resources legislation for each of the 13 provinces and territories.

I suspect that collect is not the right verb to use in the second sentence. Maybe study or analyse?

If, you mean that you want to collect data from the legislation, you can make it unambiguous by writing it like this, which makes the only de-paralleling point after data:

We need to collect data from the ministry websites and from the mineral resources legislation for each of the 13 provinces and territories.

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  • Should it not be "We need to collect data from the ministry websites "of " (relating to) the mineral "resource" legislation for each of the 13 provinces and territories. – Brad Mar 14 at 2:41
  • Now I've done it to my apologise. Should it not be "We need to collect data from the ministry websites "of " (relating to) the Mineral "Resource" legislation for each of the 13 provinces and territories. – Brad Mar 14 at 2:59
  • @brad That's not how I read it: it clearly says and in the OP's question. – JavaLatte Mar 14 at 4:51
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I think that using the uncountable "legislation" here would indicate that there is just one Act (or set of laws) for all 13 provinces and territories.

No, it would not imply one law. As the definition states, it can mean a set of laws. What makes the laws part of the set is determined by the context. Most readers will understand that "legislation" in

We need to collect data from the ministry websites and the mineral resources legislation of all 13 provinces and territories.

refers to "the mineral resource related laws of 13 provinces and territories".

Here's an example of using "legislation" to refer to multiple types of laws across multiple regions:

State legislatures have also begun introducing and advancing legislation addressing the COVID-19 outbreak. In general, this legislation falls into the following categories:...
COVID-19 Policy Tracker

If it were necessary to indicate that "legislation" encompasses more than one enactment of a bill (or similar legislative artifact), the sentence would use "these legislations fall into the following categories".

If you compare the Google ngram for "these legislations, this legislation", you will see that "this legislation" is much more common, and the sources for "these legislations" are almost all written by non-native English speakers.

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Q. LegislationS” to indicate the laws (for the same subject matter) established by different provincial or state governments.

If this is ambiguous, what would be a clear way to write this? Also note that I am writing "mineral resources" here as a broader term to capture all the acts that are essentially the same but named differently.

Legislation which covers "mineral resources" (same subject matter), varies from Province to Province and State to State.

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  • I think you might have missed the point. The first sentence of your answer is the title of the question, not the question. – JavaLatte Mar 14 at 2:22

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