Some dictionaries, such as Cambridge dictionary, show that mood is a countable noun.

The drink had put him in an amiable mood.

Other dictionaries, such as Macmillan dictionary, show that mood can be either countable or uncountable.

So, is there any difference in terms of meaning/usage when mood is used as a countable or uncountable noun?

For example, the following is from style: purdue.edu:

Style allows writers to create mood and evoke feeling in readers.

As we can see, mood here is used as an uncountable noun.

  • You're looking at this backwards. Mood has several meanings - as well as meaning the emotional state of an individual or the shared attitude of a group, it can refer to a grammatical property or a literary property (as in your last example sentence). In some of these meanings it is usually countable, while in others it can be uncountable. Are you interested in a particular meaning of mood?
    – Stuart F
    Jun 8 at 11:18
  • To put it another way, is it grammatically correct to say "Style allows writers to create moods and evoke feeling in readers."? If not, then why.
    – chenzhongpu
    Jun 8 at 11:39
  • The question you should ask is "Is it idiomatic English?" I would say that the plural is less idiomatic, because one meaning of mood is 'An angry, irritable or sullen state of mind' (Oxford), and the plural sounds as though the writer is putting their readers in a bad mood. Jun 8 at 13:00
  • 1
    It isn't wrong to say "Style allows writers to create moods," but you are not going from one apple to two when you add the plural. Creating mood means being able to give the reader any sense of tension, humor, or calm. Jun 8 at 14:07
  • Mood is singular, moods is plural and, as such, may be countable depending on context and usage. That moods are subtizable but may not be countable would be a different interpretation. Then there's the issue of what is countable. If one means quantifiable then that has a mathematically countable or a qualitatively estimable, approximating meaning, again depending on context and usage.
    – DJohnson
    Jun 8 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


Almost all English nouns can be used both as countable and uncountable nouns. When "mood" is used as an uncountable noun, it refers to an abstract concept. When the word is used as a countable noun, it refers to an incident of the abstract idea. You might want to watch this video to see more examples: https://youtu.be/SesnD3ymTAQ

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community
    Jun 8 at 17:26
  • +1 No doubt it could be improved, but it's basically the right answer. The context, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic, while conditioned by nouns and verb, in turn conditions the interpretation of the predicates and arguments, so that, for instance, stative verbs can be used in the progressive construction (even though that's sposta be forbidden), with an interpretation that the state is temporary. Jun 8 at 18:47

The 'rule'

  • count usages don't take the indefinite article

is not considered binding by many. CGEL uses the test

  • can a numeral or equivalent ('a dozen ...') be inserted in such a string?

as the deciding factor.

Here, 'The drink had put him in an amiable mood' cannot be rendered say 'The drink had put them in six amiable moods' and so the usage is deemed 'noncount'. See EA's answer at a blinding light / blinding sunlight / a blinding sunlight for further discussion.

A count usage of 'mood' is 'I basically have two moods – either let's do something spontaneous and awesome, or let's just lay in bed all day and forget the world exists.'

Inclusion of a definite article with a non-count usage can certainly make a difference to what is being communicated. In the question referred to, an article at Useful English contains:

In formal writing and literary works the article a/an may be used with some uncountable abstract nouns to show an unusual or temporary aspect of something. The indefinite article here has similar meaning to: such, certain, special, peculiar....

  • Formal / literary style: The director spoke at the meeting today with an enormous enthusiasm.
  • Standard / everyday style: The director spoke at the meeting today with great enthusiasm.

However, certain fixed expressions involving non-count usages invariably include the indefinite article. There is no 'standard/everyday' alternative, so the acceptable version perhaps loses impact.

The noun involved does not usually take the plural form.

Many use prepositions peripherally (metaphorically):

  • The room was in a mess.
  • The rooms were in a mess.
  • It must be said that he does have a temper.
  • She was in a frenzy.
  • He was in a foul mood.
  • They were in a foul mood.
  • The drink had put him in an amiable mood.
  • They went to work with a vengeance.

The example obviously referring to a more general, 'homogenised' referent

  • Style allows writers to create mood and evoke feeling in readers.

is obviously better without the indefinite article, especially in a literary commentary as here, though 'a suitable mood' would work if it didn't not pair too well with 'feeling'. Indeed, 'a mood' without modifiers is probably often taken to be equivalent to 'a bad mood': 'My, we are in a mood today.'

  • Does Useful English you mentioned refer to usefulenglish.ru? It seems that this website built by non-native speakers (Russian), so is it reliable?
    – chenzhongpu
    Jun 8 at 12:22
  • StudyLib contains the same material. I obviously endorse the section quoted; it's difficult to find the equivalent analysis in perhaps more prestigious works. // A lot of what is given consists of common examples. There is the caveat 'English doesn't lend itself to inviolable rules', which all works should contain. The only thing I've found with which I don't agree (after a skim reading) in the section on 'articles' is the labelling of nouns rather than usages as 'count'/'non-count'. Jun 8 at 13:33

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