Results 1 to 10 of 10
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: May 2009
    • Posts: 337
    #1

    Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    There was a certain coldness in her attitude towards me.

    I feel a certain reluctance to tell her the news.
    At the first I thought that must be some sort of an error on the publisher's side. Then, there was another one following it. Is this a case of There are so many rules in English language but always more exceptions?

    Many thanks

    Richard
    Last edited by cubezero3; 23-Jun-2010 at 06:28.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,104
    #2

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    Quote Originally Posted by cubezero3 View Post
    At the first I thought that must be some sort of an error on the publisher's side. Then, there was another one following it. Is this a case of There are so many rules in English language but always more exceptions?
    I think it's more a case of beginner's rules not working well for more advanced students.
    Many thanks

    Richard
    It's not unusual for nouns that are taught as uncountable to have 'a' before them.
    You can think of the above as meaning "a type of coldness", "an instance of reluctance", where the real noun is ellipted out.

    She brought me a [kind of] happiness I've never known before.
    This beach is blessed with a pure white [type of] sand that stretches for miles.


    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 70
    #3

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    Basically, placing an indefinite article before an abstract noun, such as coldness or reluctance, makes it more concrete than without it. The concept of quality is still remnant, but it has been modified to showcase a single instance.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: May 2009
    • Posts: 337
    #4

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    Can I safely think that this usage is universal and I am allowed to put an indefinate article in front of any noun generally viewed as uncountable?


    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 70
    #5

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    In this particular case, only before abstract nouns.
    Last edited by Red5; 23-Jun-2010 at 18:19. Reason: Advertising link removed

  2. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,104
    #6

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    Quote Originally Posted by Editors4Writers View Post
    In this particular case, only before abstract nouns.
    No, that's not right. My example with 'sand' is a counterexample.


    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 70
    #7

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    I was not referring to your example.

    This beach is blessed with a pure white sand that stretches for miles.

    I'll point out to you that sand is a mass noun, not an abstract noun.

    In your example, sand is being modified by adjectives that permit an indefinite article such as a to be used. Furthermore, the initial sound of pure requires an a rather than an.

    Does this help clarify things, Raymott?

  3. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,104
    #8

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    Quote Originally Posted by Editors4Writers View Post
    I was not referring to your example.

    This beach is blessed with a pure white sand that stretches for miles.

    I'll point out to you that sand is a mass noun, not an abstract noun.
    It's an uncountable noun. That's the topic.
    Yes, it's not an abstract noun. If it were, it would not be a counterexample to your claim that it's ok to use the indefinite article "only before abstract nouns."
    To argue against that statement, one would have to produce an uncountable noun (such as sand), that was not abstract, and which could take an indefinite article - which I had done even before you made the claim.

    In your example, sand is being modified by adjectives that permit an indefinite article such as a to be used.
    So, you agree that your statement that you can only do this with abstract nouns has exceptions (or is wrong) - for example, when there are adjectives qualifying the uncountable noun?

    Furthermore, the initial sound of pure requires an a rather than an.
    Yes, I would agree with that. Was that in contention?
    R.


    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 70
    #9

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    You're acting quite childish, especially for someone who is a dedicated member. Please note: I am not going to argue with your nonsensical ramblings.

    I will reiterate my previous response to the original poster: In this particular case, only before abstract nouns.

    PS - I'm glad you understand that sand is not an abstract noun.

  4. Ouisch's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2006
    • Posts: 4,142
    #10

    Re: Indefinite article put before a uncountable noun in Oxford dictionary

    Just a caution to posters - please avoid any name-calling on the message boards. If you vehemently disagree with someone it's best to continue your debate via PM. Now, everyone shake hands and play nicely.

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] This question comes from The Oxford Dictionary
    By chimsm in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 22-Oct-2009, 16:11
  2. oxford picture dictionary
    By HangmaN in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-Nov-2008, 17:23
  3. Article A in noun phrase ending with uncountable nouns
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-Jul-2008, 21:53
  4. Something misunderstood of Oxford dictionary
    By belly_ttt in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 03-Dec-2007, 14:17
  5. article+uncountable noun wheater
    By Romana in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 17-Jan-2007, 13:55

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

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