Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    1
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default A truly unique case--yes or no?

    This car has 265 horsepower.
    Why isn't horsepower countable and thus take an "s"?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    100 horses 5 powers of Superman
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    The meaning is like the "uncountable power", but then you shouldn't be able to put a number in front of it.
    He has a lot of power in his arms.
    This plant produces a lot of (electrical) power.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    This office ( job-position ) has 3 powers. One is the power to hire someone. The second is the power to fire someone. However, the most interesting one is the power to declare a one day holiday for the workers twice a year.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    By all rights, horsepower should have an "s". Either that, or you should not be able to put a number in front of it!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

  2. #2
    Ouisch's Avatar
    Ouisch is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    4,142
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: A truly unique case--yes or no?

    Some texts that I have read indicate that many years ago "horse" was considered a mass noun, like "cattle" and "water."

  3. #3
    DavyBCN's Avatar
    DavyBCN is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Wales
      • Current Location:
      • Rwanda
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    346
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: A truly unique case--yes or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by robocopkorea
    This car has 265 horsepower.
    Why isn't horsepower countable and thus take an "s"?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    100 horses 5 powers of Superman
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    The meaning is like the "uncountable power", but then you shouldn't be able to put a number in front of it.
    He has a lot of power in his arms.
    This plant produces a lot of (electrical) power.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    This office ( job-position ) has 3 powers. One is the power to hire someone. The second is the power to fire someone. However, the most interesting one is the power to declare a one day holiday for the workers twice a year.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    By all rights, horsepower should have an "s". Either that, or you should not be able to put a number in front of it!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    What the sentence really means is that the car has 265 units of horsepower. Unit is countable so can be plural. Horsepower is uncountable. Why? Because it is! My students here in Spain have terrible problems with the word travel - which is an uncountable noun and verb in English but a countable noun and verb in Spanish. When they ask me why - I say "because it is!"

Similar Threads

  1. in case
    By hela in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 23-Mar-2007, 07:45
  2. in case vs provided
    By zahari in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-May-2006, 04:48
  3. the odd 'in any case'
    By peteryoung in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 28-Jul-2005, 08:52
  4. case
    By Mit in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 19-May-2005, 12:59
  5. In Case
    By jack in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-Jan-2005, 05:12

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk