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  1. #1
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    Default Uncountable or countable?

    Can you say: "Who still uses videotape?". In my opinion it's incorrect because you're speaking generally, so it should be: "Who still uses videotapes?" However, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English indicates that it can be both countable and uncountable:

    vid‧e‧o‧tape 1 / ˈvɪdiəʊteɪp $ -dioʊ- / noun [ uncountable and countable ]
    a video videotape of a videotape of everyday life in Havana



    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    Can you say: "Who still uses videotape?". In my opinion it's incorrect because you're speaking generally, so it should be: "Who still uses videotapes?" However, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English indicates that it can be both countable and uncountable:

    vid‧e‧o‧tape 1 / ˈvɪdiəʊteɪp $ -dioʊ- / noun [ uncountable and countable ]
    a video videotape of a videotape of everyday life in Havana



    Thank you in advance.
    It's correct.
    "Videotape" is the medium. - uncountable.
    "A videotape" is a long strip of magnetized material in a cassette.
    Last edited by Raymott; 15-Dec-2011 at 02:07. Reason: sp.

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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    That's probably because the word "tape" is both countable and uncountable:

    a) We're going to need a blank tape to record the event. (a videocassette)
    b) Police roped off the area with yellow tape after the incident. (the physical tape itself)

    Check this out:

    "A videotape is a recording of images and sounds on to magnetic tape as opposed to film stock or random access digital media. Videotapes are also used for storing scientific or medical data, such as the data produced by an electrocardiogram.(in the same article)
    Videotape
    is used in both video tape recorders (VTRs) or, more commonly and more recently, videocassette recorder (VCR) and camcorders. Tape is a linear method of storing information..."

  4. #4
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    It's correct.
    "Videotape" is the medium. - uncountable.
    "A videotape" is along strip of magnetized material in a cassette.
    Thanks. I think what I meant was the physical black object (videotape cassette). So if the person refers to the physical object as a whole ( http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...tte_bottom.jpg ), would it be correct to say "Who still uses videotape cassette?" as opposed to "Who still uses videotape cassettes?".

    In this instance, I'm pretty certain that it should be plural.

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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    If we say "Who still uses videotape?" without using any article, we'll most likely mean the band plus the container it's in - one complete unit in its entirety.
    I don't think it's wrong to use "videotapes" here either. The original sentence drives the idea home well enough, though.

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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    If we say "Who still uses videotape?" without using any article, we'll most likely mean the band plus the container it's in - one complete unit in its entirety.
    I don't think it's wrong to use "videotapes" here either. The original sentence drives the idea home well enough, though.
    OK, thanks. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary says:

    Videotape - noun: magnetic tape for recording and reproducing visual images and sound ==> a video cassette. (So a videotape can mean a video cassette as well?)

    This is where I'm still confused. If videotape means the same as a video cassette, then in my opinion:

    "Who still uses video cassettes?" and "Who still uses a video cassette" are correct, but "Who still uses video cassette" should be wrong.
    However, I don't see why the same logic doesn't apply to "videotape", therefore, how can "Who still uses videotape?" be correct, if "videotape" is synonymous to "videocassette".

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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    That's the thing - "cassette" is always countable. Therefore, an article should be used before it. But when it comes to "videotape", the word "tape" does the trick - there appears no need to use any article. The case itself is so much less important than the tape that it suffices to just say "videotape" with no article.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    OK, thanks. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary says:

    Videotape - noun: magnetic tape for recording and reproducing visual images and sound ==> a video cassette. (So a videotape can mean a video cassette as well?)

    This is where I'm still confused. If videotape means the same as a video cassette, then in my opinion:

    "Who still uses video cassettes?" and "Who still uses a video cassette" are correct, but "Who still uses video cassette" should be wrong.
    However, I don't see why the same logic doesn't apply to "videotape", therefore, how can "Who still uses videotape?" be correct, if "videotape" is synonymous to "videocassette".
    Let me see if I can explain the nuance!

    Video cassette = countable noun referring to the physical black object
    Videotape = two meanings: 1) the strip of magnetic tape held inside the object and 2) the medium by which some things are recorded/played back
    Video tape = another name for "video cassette"

    So you are right that:

    - Who still uses video cassettes? = correct
    - Who still uses (or who would still use) a video cassette? = correct
    - Who still uses video cassette? = incorrect

    But because videotape can be countable and uncountable, depending on whether you mean the object or the film medium:

    Who still uses video tapes? = Correct (Who still uses those black plastic rectangles full of magnetic tape?)
    Who still uses videotape? = Correct (Who still uses videotape as a filming medium, instead of using digital?)

    Did that help? I'm not sure I explained it very well!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Did that help? I'm not sure I explained it very well!
    Thanks for clearing this up! I didn't even notice that "videotape" and "video tape" had different meanings.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Uncountable or countable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    Thanks for clearing this up! I didn't even notice that "videotape" and "video tape" had different meanings.
    Do they really?

    This academic source suggests using just "videotape" (as one word).

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