134

Often the countable and uncountable versions of an English noun will refer to different things. For example, "hamburger". If you say, I love hamburger it means that you enjoy the actual ground meat, in all its various uses. On the other hand, I love hamburgers means you like the specific use of ground beef in a hamburger, with the bun, lettuce,...


29

Some words and phrases in English can be either countable or uncountable. The difference in meaning between the two is often subtle. Sometimes the difference can shift us from a general concept to a specific. Like, "He drank water." He consumed a liquid and that liquid was water. "He drank a water." Now we're saying that he drink one of something. Probably ...


28

Oil is a mass noun, and so does not normally take a plural Like most mass nouns though, the plural form "oils" can be used to refer to multiple distinct varieties In this case, the use of "any" suggests that you should choose from a selection of different types of oil, and so "oils" is most appropriate. If the singular "oil&...


18

The general rule (which I am coming up with as I write) is this: In referring to a general state of affairs, when nouns are countable and uncountable (pizza, bread, coffee, etc.), the uncountable noun usually will be used. The countable one is used for a specific quantity. "I love pizza" but "Today I ate three small pizzas". Love is a splendid thing. I ...


17

I'm not going to tell you in absolute terms that #1 is never a valid sentence but I can still tell you that they are not going to mean the same thing. It is not the case that the first one is "more specific". The answers so far have referred to countable nouns and trying to parse the sentence in terms of English dialects. I think the part about countable ...


16

The other answers are baffling me. As a native speaker of American English, #1 sounds absolutely wrong. You don't speak "an English", so you can't speak "an impeccable English". You speak "English", so "She speaks impeccable English" would be correct. If you wanted to distinguish between different kinds of English (American, British, Australian, etc), I ...


14

Optimism is not countable - you cannot have "optimisms". The word describes an overall outlook. Unlike the feeling of love (which can be a countable noun for the things/people you love as well as an uncountable noun for the feeling), when there are multiple sources of optimism we tend to say something like "I have many reasons to be optimistic". Although as ...


14

If a variety of types of oil are shown, the plural fits better. If they are all the same, it should be singular, "some of our premium Shell oil".


13

If each individual [item] implied by a plural subject has only one of something (each of us has one face, in OP's example), we tend to extend the plurality of the subject (we) to the object (faces). Thus: 1: We can hold our heads up - 720 hits in Google Books 2: We can hold our head up - 121 hits But if you look at some of the results there, I'm sure ...


13

In ordinary usage, nouns like "milk" and "water" are uncountable.  There are times, however, when such words do have a countable sense.  For example, cows produce a different milk than goats.  If I want to compare those two milks, then I'm using the word "milk" in a countable sense and phrases like "a different milk" and "those two milks" ...


12

Remember: Less head-scratching, fewer mistakes I could not find anything simpler than this. Straight from the OxfordDictionaries.com Use 'fewer' if you’re referring to people or things in the plural (e.g. houses, newspapers, dogs, students, children). For example: People these days are buying fewer newspapers. Fewer students are opting to study science-...


11

Although Money is a mass noun, and therefore doesn't NEED a plural form, Garner and The Cambridge Guide to English Usage explain that Monies is usually used by legal or finance writers to talk about “individual sums” or “discrete sums” of money. That being said, Monies, and even Moneys, can technically be used to refer to the plural form of Money, despite ...


10

"Homage" is a countable noun, in the sense of "an act done in tribute of or respect for something". (in fact it's the usual meaning of the word nowadays) An entry, showcasing meanings and different pronunciations Also, the reason why the writer put an before "homage" is because the pronunciation of homage is kind of all over the place, with some ...


10

"Come to market" is an idiomatic phrase meaning "go on sale to the general public". It doesn't mean that the phones have come to markets, i.e., been moved into position in shops, markets and other places where they're sold.


10

While uncountable nouns usually do not have plurals, they can sometimes follow an indefinite article. This could be when it is desired to qualify or limit the noun’s meaning. A crystalline prose, a leaden prose, a sparkling and lively prose. Macmillan Dictionaries, the source of your second definition of 'prose', has an article: Can the indefinite article be ...


9

In this case, I'd say you need the plural "faces". As, presumably, we each have our own face, you are talking about many faces here. But it isn't true that a plural subject requires a plural object. Many people could be acting on one thing. For example, "We should keep our neighborhood clean." There could be many people all living in one neighborhood. ...


8

She speaks an impeccable English. Concept A: Not all Englishes are the same, even within a particular dialect. We have our own idiolects. Her English (the English she speaks) is impeccable. Concept B: There is faulty English and there is faultless English. The English that comes out of her mouth is of the faultless sort. Impossible to say with any ...


8

There are 5 hepatitis B viruses in his liver This is valid, if you observed 5 individual viruses in his liver somehow. However only in a scientific context would you hear anything like this. In a non-scientific context, virus is a singluar thing that has the ability to "spread" and that one "has." I have the hepatitis B virus. Many times a plain noun ...


8

The word market here is not referring to a physical place. Instead, it's an abstract. Of course, in that sense, it won't take any article. Had it been a physical place, it would have been - There is a market in sector 15.


7

Note that "I love cakes" sounds entirely natural to me, though it has a different nuance. Cake is the uncountable term for the stuff cakes are made of, so saying you love cake implies that you love the stuff cakes are made of. This is what you're likely to say if you're talking about them as food. Saying you love cakes implies that you love the cakes ...


7

Literally, the word core refers to things inside a 3D structure (fruit, planets, etc). Figuratively, core has the notion of the thing or value etc that is 'central' or 'most important'. When used in the figurative sense (and in relation to a plurality of individuals, not just one individual), the term is conventionally used when there is one value or ...


7

In general, nouns can be divided into abstract concepts and real-world (concrete) objects. Furthermore nouns can be divided into things measured by quantity or degree, and things measured by number. As a rough principle, abstract concepts (like love or peace) and nouns measurable by quantity (like water or sand) tend to be uncountable by default. ...


6

You're right, I didn't see many of the sights is correct and means I saw only a few or some of the number of interesting places. But, I didn't see much of the sights is also correct. The idiom see much of means see frequently (especially in the recent past) or for long periods of time, and is typically used in the negated form. For example, I haven't seen ...


6

Sugar is uncountable: grains of sugar are countable. Air is uncountable: oxygen molecules are countable. Money is uncountable: dollars are countable. Sometimes we want to use a collective term for stuff that you use to buy things with- that's money. When you want to start quantifying (counting) it, you have to use a currency- dollars, dinars, yen, euros.


6

Fund is a countable noun meaning an amount of money kept for a specific purpose. There can be many different funds. Funds, in addition to its meaning as the plural of fund, is used as an uncountable noun synonymous with "money." Thus, it would take the comparative adjective "much" just as "money" does: How much funds did the organization raise? However, ...


5

Abstract nouns are generally uncountable but then it is not a rule of thumb. Depending upon the context, they can be used as countable. EnglishPractice website quotes - The uncountable form is used with a ‘general’ meaning whereas the countable form has a ‘particular’ meaning. Cambridge Dictionary supports that. In your case, it seems uncountable. ...


5

This question is not useless. It is not stupid. It is certainly not easy. American English is my native and only language. Even so, I find that I'm not completely sure whether this specific instance of "understanding" is countable. I suspect that it is not, but I can't quite prove that it isn't. On one level, we're talking about one understanding of ...


5

From the Wikipedia page on "mass nouns"... - the word "fruit" is (usually) non-count, whereas "vegetables" is a plural count form. What this means is that for many (particularly, older and/or British) speakers, explicitly pluralising the word in contexts such as "I'm a strict vegetarian - I only eat fruits and vegetables" sounds a bit "odd". But over ...


5

While you could say "Stop making a noise" for a single occurrance, its more natural to say what the noise is, also stop is not good here, because it implies an ongoing condition (that would be "noise" not "a noise"). Better would be: Don't make a sound. Don't make a noise is also OK, but I think (in AmE anyway) Don't make any noise. is better.


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