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The majority of people who have a church wedding ...

is grammatical because "people" is a countable noun, but, for example, "driving" is not:

The majority of driving is done on country roads or highway.

So, I wonder if it is good English to use a mass noun after "majority of". Is it?

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2 Answers 2

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Because majority means "3a : a number or percentage equaling more than half of a total (a majority of voters) (a two-thirds majority)", and because it's both singular and plural (e.g., the majority {is / are} in favor of the proposal), people sometimes use it with non-count mass nouns.

You can always replace "the majority of" with "most":

{The majority of / Most [CHOOSE ONE]} rats in the USA are white lab rats that frequent medical schools and pharmaceutical companies.
{The majority of / Most} fresh water comes from rainfall, melting snow, and melting glaciers.

The ODO says: "Strictly speaking, majority should be used with countable nouns to mean ‘the greater number’, as in the majority of cases. Use with uncountable nouns to mean ‘the greatest part’, as in I spent the majority of the day reading, is not considered good standard English, although it is common in informal contexts." [Emphasis added.]

I agree with the ODO. When writing and speaking formally, use most instead of the majority of with non-count mass nouns like water and driving.

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Majority (n) 1. the greater number or part of something:

Yes, it is perfectly grammatical. I can't come up with a better way of stating the second sentence.

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  • Is it wrong to say "the maximum driving"? Feb 28, 2013 at 22:29
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    In this sentence, that would not make sense.
    – Kevin
    Feb 28, 2013 at 22:32
  • Thanks! I am not sure to ask it as a question or not. Using of maximum is not clear for me. Feb 28, 2013 at 22:35
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    Maximum would mean "highest" or "greatest". You could say "The maximum driving speed is 55 mile per hour, unless you want to get a ticket."
    – Kevin
    Feb 28, 2013 at 22:37
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    A better way of writing the second sentence is this: Most driving is done on country roads and highways.
    – user264
    Feb 28, 2013 at 23:15

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