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In the dictionary, they say

lay bricks/carpet/concrete/cables etc

to put or fasten bricks, a carpet etc in the correct place, especially on the ground or floor

The carpet was laid last week.

The project involved laying an oil pipeline across the desert.

It seems that when we say "The construction worker laid tiles", the part "on the foundation" or "on the floor" is implied.

But, if you have to make it clear, then

Is it technically correct to say "The construction worker laid tiles/carpets/ wood on the foundation(s) of the house" or "The construction worker laid tiles/carpets/ wood on the floor of the house"?

Does "floor" mean it has already had a layer of carpet or wood or tiles on it?

Also, the noun "foundation" is countable.

Is there just 1 foundation in a house or many foundations in a house? For example, each room has a foundation or what?

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    This is completely unrelated to English, but if you are laying tiles straight on the foundation, you are building the house wrong.
    – Davor
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 12:26

3 Answers 3

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For houses built on stumps the floor is quite distinct from the foundations. For older brick houses it would be more common to speak of the footings or foundations of the brick walls in the plural. This is even the case for a single brick wall which may be build on concrete poured into a single trench.

For a house built on a concrete slab the floor is the top surface of the concrete, and the slab itself is the (single) foundation. However it is still often referred to in the plural, and the plural may make literal sense if the slab comprises several sections.

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Is there just 1 foundation in a house or many foundations in a house? For example, each room has a foundation or what?

I am currently in the process of building the fourth addition to my house. Each addition (and the original house) has its own section of foundation, but the house (as a whole) only has one foundation (in American English).

If needed, I might refer to this "section" of foundation or that "part" of the foundation, but it's still a singular foundation.

Therefore, I would lay tiles on the "foundation" of my house, not the "foundations" of my house, just like I would lay tiles on the "floor" of my house.

However, my house has two stories, so you might ask "do you have tiles on both floors?" indicating that you're asking about both downstairs and upstairs.

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  • In my house it is impossible to lay tiles onto the top of the foundation(s). The lowest horizontal surface is the timber floor, which is on joists and bearers supported by stumps. How is your house attached to the ground?
    – Peter
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 3:57
  • By "stumps", @Peter, do you mean "posts"? It is also impossible to lay tile on the foundation of my house, as there is a wood sill plate sitting on top and the floor joists rest on that - I was continuing with the OP's question. I am going to put a thin brick veneer on the outside of the cinder block walls of the addition's foundation so they appear to match the actual brick foundation of the rest of the house. This could be considered "tile" but isn't in standard AM-EN. I agree 100% that putting tile on top of the foundation is "odd".
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 13:24
  • Also, note this comment. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 13:24
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A building only has one foundation.

A floor is just the thing people stand on. If it's the bottom of the building, the floor could be the foundation itself, as in any unfinished basement in North America. Otherwise, the floor is whatever material it's made of, like wood sheets.

"Wood" is too generic to "lay". We lay "wood flooring".

Also, countable "carpets" means small individual carpets, which anyone can just put down after the floor is built -- no need to "lay" them. If workers are installing it permanently, like over an entire floor, we use the uncountable "lay carpet" or "lay carpeting".

Otherwise, all your sentences are correct.

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    "Foundations" is normally used in the plural...
    – MikeB
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 12:11
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    Not necessarily in American English, @MikeBrockington. My house has a foundation, but "I knew you before the foundations of the Earth". Usually a building is only considered to have one foundation, even if it's built in multiple sections.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 12:24
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    See superdraft.com.au/trends/4-basic-foundation-types-new-home for a discussion of foundations.
    – Peter
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 3:49
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    @gotube, many office buildings have reinforced concrete foundations. The foundations of our house are concrete. The bridge pylon has foundations of reinforced concrete piles driven into the ground.
    – Peter
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 5:07
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    @gotube, if I knew the house was built on a single poured concrete slab floor I might use the singular. but I would normally use the plural word. I would normally say "the foundations were cracked by the earthquake" or "the concrete slab was cracked by the earthquake", rather than "the foundation was cracked by the earthquake".
    – Peter
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 21:25

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