138 votes
Accepted

Why do we say "I love cake" but "I love cars"?

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 ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
47 votes
Accepted

What's the correct unit for homework?

In your example, you could use pieces, as in I have thirty pieces of homework to grade every week. piece noun [ C ] (THING) a single object of a particular type: a piece of furniture/clothing/...
Em.'s user avatar
  • 45.4k
34 votes
Accepted

Can "staff" ever be pluralized?

Some people confuse the terms collective noun with mass noun or uncountable noun. As a simple, relatable example, herd is a countable, collective noun. You can have one herd or multiple herds, even ...
CJ Dennis's user avatar
  • 4,022
32 votes

Is "bananas is" possible by any chance?

If you use "banana" as a measured recipe ingredient, it's an uncountable, singular noun: Banana can be used as a substitute for egg, as it binds the ingredients together. The recipe says to ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
31 votes
Accepted

I gave him a paper to read

From the context, I take the paper as a piece of writing usually on an academic or official subject as in They published a landmark paper in 1995. Or it can refer to a piece of writing that is ...
Yuri's user avatar
  • 7,583
29 votes

Can "staff" ever be pluralized?

Staff is a collective noun, so when you are talking about individuals within the staff, you would say something like 2 staff members A sentence like the following is also possible. Two ...
LeeV's user avatar
  • 282
28 votes

Is it 'oils' or 'oil'?

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 &...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 890
25 votes

Why is "science" in "Bachelor of Science" singular, whereas "arts" in "Bachelor of Arts" is plural?

The short answer is that the words "art/arts" and "science/sciences" are used differently in various idiomatic ways. Both "art" and "science" can be considered ...
Astralbee's user avatar
  • 101k
24 votes
Accepted

Is "bananas is" possible by any chance?

His argument is that "bananas" refers to the substance that makes up the fruit, rather than the units, pretty much as chicken refers to the substance, or flesh, in "I like chicken" - not chickens. So ...
J.R.'s user avatar
  • 110k
24 votes

What's the correct unit for homework?

You are given homework assignments: [Merriam-Webster] 2 b : a specified task or amount of work assigned or undertaken as if assigned by authority • a homework assignment The students were ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
24 votes
Accepted

Does the noun 'English' have to be always uncountable?

You would be wise not to depend solely on Grammarly for your grammar advice. You may safely ignore its advice for what it alleges to be your 'mistakes'. You can use an indefinite article before most ...
Michael Harvey's user avatar
22 votes

Why do we say "I love cake" but "I love cars"?

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 ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 44.7k
22 votes
Accepted

Why is "science" in "Bachelor of Science" singular, whereas "arts" in "Bachelor of Arts" is plural?

Overview The central issue of question is the countable and uncountable usages of the words science and art. Explanation Following are two common usages of science: (uncountable): All activity that ...
brainchild's user avatar
  • 1,721
22 votes
Accepted

Why can we use the article "a" with 'a long history' when 'history' is uncountable?

"History" can be used both as a countable noun and an uncountable noun. When we refer to the concept of history generally, it's non-count: I majored in History. But when we're referring to ...
gotube's user avatar
  • 49.7k
21 votes

Why is "science" in "Bachelor of Science" singular, whereas "arts" in "Bachelor of Arts" is plural?

The other answers have pointed to the distinction between art and arts in Modern English, a polysemous word borrowed from Latin via French. There is a historical dimension to this, which I think is a ...
Kahovius's user avatar
  • 311
20 votes
Accepted

different "culture" or different "cultures"

Your grammar book is, unfortunately, incorrect. Culture is both countable and uncountable, depending on which definition you mean: culture (n): [mass noun] The arts and other ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
19 votes
Accepted

"got any eggs" vs. "got any egg"

"Eggs" is countable and means those oval things that are laid by birds. "Egg" isn't countable. It normally wouldn't make sense to say "egg" as eggs themselves are countable, but you could say "have ...
Owain's user avatar
  • 1,490
17 votes
Accepted

Using "a" with the word "slang"

"Slang" as a noun refers to the entire body of very informal language and terms, not just one word. So, we would say "it is a slang word", not "it is a slang". That would ...
Astralbee's user avatar
  • 101k
16 votes

I gave him a paper to read

As others have said, it depends on what is meant by "paper." If the speaker means a sheet of paper (or a slip of paper, or a note written on a piece of blue paper), then you are right – it's not a ...
J.R.'s user avatar
  • 110k
14 votes
Accepted

How many pieces of garlic? How much garlic? uncountable noun

A "whole piece" of garlic is called a head of garlic. Hence, How much garlic do you want? How many heads of garlic do you want?
CowperKettle's user avatar
  • 36.6k
14 votes

Is it 'oils' or 'oil'?

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".
Jack O'Flaherty's user avatar
13 votes

Singular or plural usage for 'face' in the sentence

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). ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
13 votes

Formally can money be in a plural form (monies) or not?

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 ...
Gary Botnovcan's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

Is 'optimism' countable?

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 ...
Astralbee's user avatar
  • 101k
12 votes

Using indefinite articles before adjectives: "Let's have a good breakfast"

Let's have breakfast. Here the word breakfast is an abstract noncount noun. "Abstract" means that you can't touch it with you hands, roughly speaking. Let's have a good breakfast. Here the ...
CowperKettle's user avatar
  • 36.6k
11 votes

Formally can money be in a plural form (monies) or not?

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 “...
Hank's user avatar
  • 484
11 votes

How many pieces of garlic? How much garlic? uncountable noun

“Garlic” is an uncountable noun. So you should say "How much garlic do you want?", not "How many garlic(s) do you want?" The whole garlic consisting of cloves is called a “head” or “bulb”. So you ...
Khan's user avatar
  • 27.2k
11 votes

Why some countable nouns treated as uncountable?

"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 ...
David Richerby's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Saying "a syrup" while syrup is uncountable

When a noun is 'uncountable', it means that any given instance of that noun cannot be counted. If you have a jar of syrup, you can't specify the quantity by counting. However, you can count instances ...
PRL75's user avatar
  • 2,684
10 votes

Collective noun query: "A fleet of cars are parked."

A fleet of cars is parked. Why? It might help to consider the sentence without the prepositional phrase: A fleet ... is parked. While a fleet of cars is many cars, our sentence is describing ...
noah's user avatar
  • 1,643

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