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  1. #1
    Deepurple is offline Member
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    Potential or Potentials

    In Longman Dict, it defines "potential" as uncountable as follows:


    2 [uncountable]
    if people or things have potential, they have a natural ability or quality that could develop to make them very good
    have/show potential She has the potential to become a champion.
    with potential
    a young player with great potential
    achieve/fulfil/realize your (full) potential (=succeed as well as you possibly can)



    However, in Collins Cobuild, it says:

    2 [N-uncount: also N in pl]
    If you say that someone or something has potential, you mean that they have the necessary abilities or qualities to become successful or useful in the future.
    The school strives to treat pupils as individuals and to help each one to achieve their full potential...
    Denmark recognised the potential of wind energy early.

    I would like to know how the "potentials" can be used in plural form as stated in Collins Cobuild. It seems to me such usage is contracdictory to that of Longman.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    apex2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Potential or Potentials

    We do not say 'potentials'.
    The dictionaries you are using are not exactly helpful on this occasion. Potential is an adjective meaning powerful, possible or likely. When we say that A has the potential to do well in his exams we should be saying A has the potentiality (n) to do well, or, A has potentially (adv) the ability to do well.

  3. #3
    Deepurple is offline Member
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    Re: Potential or Potentials

    Quote Originally Posted by apex2000 View Post
    We do not say 'potentials'.
    The dictionaries you are using are not exactly helpful on this occasion. Potential is an adjective meaning powerful, possible or likely. When we say that A has the potential to do well in his exams we should be saying A has the potentiality (n) to do well, or, A has potentially (adv) the ability to do well.
    Thank you apex2000. But the "Potential" used in the instances is a noun. BTW, could you recommend any other helpful Dicts for my reference?

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Potential or Potentials

    Quote Originally Posted by apex2000 View Post
    We do not say 'potentials'.
    ...


    "A good coach should know the potentials of each of his or her athletes." (Of course, some people might prefer the singular there too, but speakers who want to refer to the potential possessed by each of a number of people could very well use the plural. This usage agrees with Cobuild.)

    b

  5. #5
    apex2000's Avatar
    apex2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Potential or Potentials

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    Thank you apex2000. But the "Potential" used in the instances is a noun. BTW, could you recommend any other helpful Dicts for my reference?
    It only appears to be a noun because of 'the' and is a sloppy use of the word, whereas the noun is potentiality.
    There are many dictionaries that you could use, such as Chambers, and the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) is regarded as the best although also the largest.
    Beware of many of the online offerings as they are not always as good as the books you can hold. Have a look at Internet Public Library: where you will see a plethora of options, one or more of which may help in particular circumstances.

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Potential or Potentials

    Quote Originally Posted by apex2000 View Post
    It only appears to be a noun because of 'the' and is a sloppy use of the word, whereas the noun is potentiality.
    ...
    I was simply saying that the usage that some teachers choose to refer to as 'sloppy' is common. The Cobuild definition recognizes this. People who use this would disagree about "potentiality" being "the" noun (whatever the is supposed to mean - I suspect prescriptivism would enter into the explanation).

    b
    PS
    But discussions of the P word tend to generate more heat than light, and I have no intention of pursuing this argument. I have said what I have said. Over and out.

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