1.They have to have a basic understanding of computers in order to use advanced technology.
2.Yet in the long run would a wider sense of mutual understanding make us safer?

In both cases 'a' is used before the word understanding. What is it we actually counting here? Please explain here.

1 Answer 1


Understanding is often used in a countable sense. If you and I read the same book, we might understand it differently. So our understandings are not the same:

I have an understanding of the book, and you have an understanding of the book.

In your passage, the author imagines several different levels of understanding. They might look like this:

a basic understanding
an intermediate understanding
an advanced understanding

So the use of articles is natural in this context.

In your second sentence, a introduces sense, not understanding. But the article works similarly to the previous article. The author imagines that there can be a wide sense as well as a narrow sense and perhaps several kinds of sense between these two.

So this article is also natural.

  • thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Aug 4, 2021 at 15:39
  • I have a doubt that follows up my previous question. In the sentence " this phone has good battery back up " why can't we use the article "a" before the word good when it can be counted as good or bad or poor or better. Aug 13, 2021 at 4:32

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