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  1. #41
    Bennevis's Avatar
    Bennevis is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    In my opinion, to say that some nouns are always countable (or non-countable) would not be provably true, and is therefore a potential lie.
    Maybe in the beginning (as a learner is slowly making progress) it makes sense to be that categorical. The last thing I myself want is lie to my students. I'd rather be reticent about it than later be censured.

  2. #42
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    In my opinion, to say that some nouns are always countable (or non-countable) would not be provably true, and is therefore a potential lie.
    The same goes, probably, for my statement about every noun being potentially countable and potentially uncountable. But I did furnish it with an "I do believe".

    PS: 'An "I do believe"' doesn't sound right to me, but I have no idea why. I would delete the article now, but I then this PS wouldn't make sense.

  3. #43
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Out of curiosity, I just did a little Google search for "hydrogens", and apparently some people use it to mean "hydrogen atoms". For example, 'For example, the four hydrogen atoms of methane (CH4) are homotopic with one another, as are the two hydrogens or the two chlorines in dichloromethane (CH2Cl2)', http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topicity. I guess it's fine, but I don't particulary like it.

  4. #44
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    Out of curiosity, I just did a little Google search for "hydrogens", and apparantly some people use it to mean "hydrogen atoms". For example, 'For example, the four hydrogen atoms of methane (CH4) are homotopic with one another, as are the two hydrogens or the two chlorines in dichloromethane (CH2Cl2).' I guess it's fine, but I don't particulary like it.
    Interesting. Is it impossible in Dutch? A Polish chemist might also use the Polish plural here, though this is rather informal.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    Maybe in the beginning (as a learner is slowly making progress) it makes sense to be that categorical.
    Nah!

    If your child, your constituent, your employee or your student discovers that you have lied to them once, they may never have confidence. in you again One doesn't have to tell the whole truth, but one should never be categorical about an untruth. (The Gospel according to 5jj)
    Last edited by 5jj; 09-Sep-2012 at 22:11.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  6. #46
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Interesting. Is it impossible in Dutch? A Polish chemist might also use the Polish plural here, though this is rather informal.
    It's possible in theory, but it's not something that's likely to appear in textbooks. In fact, now that I think of it, I have never seen this usage. I agree that if you do use it, it sounds rather informal.

    Moreover, I have used a number of English textbooks, and I don't recall seeing this shorthand notation for X atoms.

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Nah!

    If your child, your constituent, your employee or your student discovers that you have lied to them once, they may never have confidence. in you again One doesn't have to tell the whole truth, but one should never be caterogical about an untruth. (The Gospel according to 5jj)
    Still, let's be honest and get to the bottom of it once and for all. Tell me honestly, as a native speaker, do you PERSONALLY believe there ARE strictly countable or uncountable nouns? The word "passenger" - need an example, the word "money" - need an example. 5jj, level with me and prove to me that there are no nouns that are absolutely countable or uncountable. I'm saying this as someone who just wants a spade to be called "spade".

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    It's possible in theory, but it's not something that's likely to appear in textbooks. I agree that it sounds rather informal.

    Moreover, I have used quite a number of English textbooks, and I don't recall this shorthand usage for X atoms.
    We are in grey areas here.

    As a teacher, i would not tell my students that hydrogen and chlorine were countable nouns. Indeed, I would almost certainly suggest that they always assume they are used non-countably. Such a suggestion would serve them well.

    If one of them produced the sentence that CS found, I would express surprise - but then I am not a scientist, and the language of scientists not infrequently surprises me. I see no problem here - unless we have created the problem for ourselves by insisting that sentence X is always wrong.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  9. #49
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    5jj, level with me and prove to me that there are no nouns that are absolutely countable or uncountable. I'm saying this as someone who just wants a spade to be called "spade".
    You are asking the wrong questions. You cannot prove a negative. In fact, you cannot prove anything. For example, you cannot prove that humans have a heart.

  10. #50
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    Default Re: Uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    You are asking the wrong questions. You cannot prove a negative. In fact, you cannot prove anything. For example, you cannot prove that humans have a heart.
    Well, I don't have to prove anything. Everything has already been proven. It's not my turn to disprove that the word "passenger" is ABSOLUTELY countable.

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