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  1. #1
    kooiu is offline Junior Member
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    Uncountable or Countable

    1) Natural disasters present social scientists the opportunity to study human behavior at times in which adaptations and inequalities are often more clearly revealed. (the first sentence in the first paparagraph of an article)

    2) Disaster struck when the wheel came off.

    3) Adaptation to climate change is vital

    4) Minorities usually face inequality of opportunity

    My question: disaster, adaptation, and inequality are uncountable nouns. A) But why are they used as countable nouns in a general sense in sentence (1) when there is a common rule of countable noun that uncounable nouns are not plural when used in a general sense.

    B) For uncountable nouns that may sometimes be countable like those in sentence (1) above, can they be substituted for their original uncountable forms when used in a general sense without losing their intended meanings? For example, "Natural disaster presents social scientists the opportunity to study human behavior at times in which adaptation and inequality are often more clearly revealed"

  2. #2
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    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Re: Uncountable or Countable

    You can have more than one disaster, and you can have more than one adaptation. Both disaster and adaptation are countable nouns.





  3. #3
    kooiu is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Uncountable or Countable

    I would like to thank English experts on this forum for your help so far with my noncount problems. I know that when we talk about environmental stresses we mean individual environmental problems (like deforestration, pollution, and so on). Please I still have serious problems with how the following uncountable nouns may become countable. Please help me again.

    1 (a) I will assess you (talking to a whole class) based on your contribution/response/comentary to questions asked in class

    1 (b) Please why not, "I will assess you based on your contributions/responses/comentaries to questions asked in class" since each class member may respond/contribute to two or more questions? If a person contributes to two questions, he has made two contributions: is this correct please?

    2 (a) We studied 700 mothers in town A based on their level of education.

    2 (b) Why not "We studied 700 mothers in town A based on their levels of education since each mother has a level of education that may not be the same as that of any other mother in the study?

    3 (a) "There is some evidence that career insecurities make judges in an international court more likely to favor their national government when it is a party to a dispute"

    3 (b) Why not "There is some evidence that career insecurity makes judges in an international court more likely to favor their national governments when they are a party to a dispute" since career insecurity is uncountable and judges in an international court are likely to have different national governments since they come from different countries?

    4 (a) "Judges share a concern for the institutional capacities of their courts"

    4 (b) Why not "Judges share a concern for the institutional capacity of their courts" since capacity is an uncountable noun? Does institutional capacities in 4 (a) refer to functions/duties/obligations?

  4. #4
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    Re: Uncountable or Countable

    You can say:
    contributions, responses, commentaries
    (The word "comments" may be more appropriate here.)
    www.dictionary.com

  5. #5
    kooiu is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Uncountable or Countable

    Please I still do not understand the direction of your help in light of why and how 1a, 2a, 3a, and 4a are different from 1b, 2b, 3b, and 4b. Please respond to my post in a way that a non-native speaker of English will not feel more frustration in an attempt to get certain things right. Thank you for your anticipated help.

  6. #6
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    Re: Uncountable or Countable

    All of those that you said are noncount nouns are actually count nouns.

    I have no problem with "their level of education", although I suppose you could say "their levels of education".



  7. #7
    kooiu is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Uncountable or Countable

    RonBee,
    Thank you for your help. I am able to distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns out of context.

    But as a native speaker who has found a usage pattern with certain words in context, I think there should be reasons for the pattern.
    To really help me, please tell me why the singular form in 2a (their level of education), 3a (their national government - their refering to judges from different countries).

    For the past three days, I have consistently come across "societies and their culture - instead of their cultures, houses and their location - instead of their locations, measure the level of seas - instead of levels since seas mean more than one sea.

    It seems to me that there is a rule for this pattern, but a non-native speaker I am in darkness

  8. #8
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    Re: Uncountable or Countable

    Quote Originally Posted by kooiu View Post
    RonBee,
    Thank you for your help. I am able to distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns out of context.

    But as a native speaker who has found a usage pattern with certain words in context, I think there should be reasons for the pattern.
    To really help me, please tell me why the singular form in 2a (their level of education), 3a (their national government - their refering to judges from different countries).

    For the past three days, I have consistently come across "societies and their culture - instead of their cultures, houses and their location - instead of their locations, measure the level of seas - instead of levels since seas mean more than one sea.

    It seems to me that there is a rule for this pattern, but a non-native speaker I am in darkness
    If they all came from the same country it should be their national government. If the judges came from different countries it should be their national governments.

    Unless the houses are all in one place it should be houses and their locations.

    As for the others, it is hard to tell without more context. (Aren't all seas at sea level? )




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