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  1. #1
    gorikaz is offline Member
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    Countable vs Uncountable

    Dear native speakers,

    In Japanese, we do not need to care about whether a certain noun is countable or uncountable. However, in English, a noun can be classified into these three: countable, uncountable, or both. Because of this difference in use of language between these two countries, sometimes I have a very hard time understanding if certain nouns can be countable or uncountable, or could be both. In dictionaries, some words are written as both "countable" and "uncountable," which confuses me more.

    Well, for example, what about the nouns like "electric current," "voltage," and "reset" (here, "reset" is used as a noun)? Are they countable or uncountable, or could be both? When the third one (=could be both) applies, how can I know when to make these nouns countable and when to make these nouns uncountable?

    (In case of countable)
    a direct current (DC), an alternate current (AC), a through current, direct currents, alternate currents, and through currents, a voltage, voltages

    (In case of uncountable)
    direct current (DC), alternate current (AC), voltage, and the like.

    Native speakers, please, please help me.

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    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Re: Countable vs Uncountable

    FIRST you must look at the sentence to see how the word is used. In studying English, you must see the word in its context to discuss its function.


    We had to push the reset button to start up the furnace again.

    Electric current can jump from one place to another.

    The frayed cord would not allow the electric current to complete the circuit.

  3. #3
    gorikaz is offline Member
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    Re: Countable vs Uncountable

    Thank you for your comment and advice.
    I fully understand what you mean, but I would like to know if the words such as "voltage" and "electric current" can really be countable. In other words, is it NOT wrong if they are written like "a voltage" or "voltages", or "an electric current" or "electric currents" somewhere in a sentence? In my dictionary, both of these words are refered as "countable/uncountable" nouns. Isn't this mean that these words can be with an article (a/an) or in a form of plural, or else in a form of uncontable?
    Last edited by gorikaz; 04-Mar-2008 at 23:18.

  4. #4
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Re: Countable vs Uncountable

    Quote Originally Posted by gorikaz View Post
    Thank you for your comment and advice.
    I fully understand what you mean, but I would like to know if the words such as "voltage" and "electric current" can really be countable. In other words, is it NOT wrong if they are written like "a voltage" or "voltages", or "an electric current" or "electric currents" somewhere in a sentence? In my dictionary, both of these words are referred to as "countable/uncountable" nouns. Doesn't this mean that these words can be with an article (a/an) or in a form of plural, or else in a form of uncontable?
    Yes, they can be countable:

    There is a voltage which is unacceptably high in that cable.
    Voltages in Britain and Europe are not the same.


    When there is an electric current available, you can operate the radio.
    The electric currents in the air made his hair stand on end.

    ,

  5. #5
    gorikaz is offline Member
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    Re: Countable vs Uncountable

    Sorry for the late response!
    Thank you very much for clarifying these points.

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