This case always gets my head dizzy everytime I want to write sentence in english, and each of articles I read on the internet didn't discuss this part.

  • movement
  • reaction
  • refusal

And especially those which are in the state of gerund.

  • Running (I do some runnings? Or some running?)

I could just go to dictionary site to check these 3 words whether they are countable or not, but I think it would be wise if I just ask. Because I have feeling that, it is either (just like normal/pure noun) ?

  • “Movement”, “reaction”, and “refusal” are countable. Usually, such nouns are countable. They describe instances of <verb>s. Gerunds usually aren't countable -- especially gerunds made from dynamic verbs. The ones I can think of right now that are countable are “meeting” and “feeling”.
    – user3395
    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Each of your three examples is usually, but not always countable, because it's a noun, despite the fact it was formed from a verb. You could say

There was a movement in the underbrush
The foreign diplomats had three reactions to our proposal
After two refusals, he finally agreed

In general, materials and general phenomena are uncountable, like

The beach is covered in sand (not a sand or sands)
I have trouble with math (not a trouble)
I have too much homework (not homeworks)

but each of your examples can be a specific individual thing. It gets confusing because many words can be used in either count or noncount senses. For example, it's also common to see things like

Reaction to our proposal was mostly negative
Excessive movement may aggravate the injury
Refusal of their offer will result in the negotiations breaking down

In this case, we're talking about these things as if they were general phenomena: any reaction, any movement, any refusal, not specific examples of them. (Although in all of these cases, using a count form would also be understandable and valid.)

Gerunds are different: they're still a verb form, they just function like nouns. The situation is even more complicated with these words, because many of them have both gerund and noun senses, and can be used in count and noncount ways, and it can be hard to tell which one is being used. Again, if you're referring to a specific instance of something, it's countable; if you're referring a general phenomenon, it's a gerund or uncountable...but it can be hard to tell! A lot of nouns look like gerunds and the only way to tell which is which is by context.

"We are meeting in the south hall" - gerund
"We are at a meeting in the south hall" - countable noun

"I like reading" - gerund
"There will be a reading at the funeral service" - countable noun

In your example about running, it's a gerund, so it functions like an uncountable noun: I do some running. We wouldn't usually say "I do running"; if you run in general, you would just say "I run", and if you mean you are running right now, you would say "I am running", but you could use the emphatic do to emphasize what you're saying or quantify it.

Plural gerunds
Gerunds as subject

  • Is running a gerund? What about building and beginning? I think they might be something like fossilized forms that are now just nouns. Anyway, one can do several runnings of a horse before the horse is used in a race . Or something like that, meaning running can be countable, but not when it refers to the exercise that humans do. Apr 15, 2016 at 18:24
  • Well, you can certainly say "I am running/building/beginning", or "Running/building/beginning is easy", so yes, they definitely have gerundial senses! "A beginning" certainly means something like the "the act of beginning", and "a running" sounds weird, but I could see it being used to mean "an act of running" (for example, "Every year there is a running of the bulls in Pamplona" or even "One symptom of the common cold is a running of the nose") but you're right that "a building" doesn't exactly mean "an act of building" (although it was certainly something that got built...)
    – stangdon
    Apr 16, 2016 at 11:25
  • Hello, thank you, so I make it clear those which don't have extension ing could be Either, and those which have look like gerund Tend to be uncountable ? I mean in general case. Apr 16, 2016 at 11:45

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