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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    this is train!(a train!)

    While seeing my little son's Thomas Train puzzle, I unconsiously said "This is train".
    I learned from a grammar material that no-article means a conceptual general idea of things, while articles indicate actual, real life things.
    ex)Honey, this is train!(a train!)

    But in this case, what would native speakers mostly say indicating a picture of train? Train or a train? It seems the boundary is really ambiguous. Even if you indicate a real train and try to say the concept of train, then could you say. "This is train"?

    Article is a really difficult area for Koreans as Korean language doesn't have an indefinite article even for actual things, which might be confusing for English speakers in return.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    You need the article. "Train" is not a concept. "Trains" are things. If you are actually looking at or pointing at a train, at a photograph of a train, a painting of a train etc, then you need to say "This is a train". If there is more than one train then "These are trains".

    We only omit the article with actual concepts (ie things that do not physically exist or thing that you can't touch): "This is life" or uncountable nouns: "This is snow."

  3. keannu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    You need the article. "Train" is not a concept. "Trains" are things. If you are actually looking at or pointing at a train, at a photograph of a train, a painting of a train etc, then you need to say "This is a train". If there is more than one train then "These are trains".

    We only omit the article with actual concepts (ie things that do not physically exist or thing that you can't touch): "This is life" or uncountable nouns: "This is snow."
    Thanks a lot, but It's really confusing for Koreans. I think even though singular nouns exist as the original form, they are rarely used, but plural forms and articled ones are mostly used. Then, when do you use the original singular form?

    For example, you would say "Trains should be safe" not "Train should be safe"
    I guess maybe singular forms are used for word definition such as "Train is a vehicle that people ride for a long-distance trip.", I again doubt this should be replaced by "trains".

  4. keannu's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    Gil
    Millions of thanks, but could you answer my last question of when to use singular forms of countable nouns such as train, book, house,etc?

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    You can say "A train is..." or "Trains are..." but not "Train is..."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. keannu's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    You can say "A train is..." or "Trains are..." but not "Train is..."
    I understand I shouldn't say "train is...", so singular forms seem rarely used, but for which case are singluar forms used? such as word definition?(Is it word definition or word definitions?) It's also confusing, I understand that to generalize countable nouns, you should use plural forms and for uncountable nouns, singular forms,
    But sometimes I can't decide if some word is countable or uncountable as I'm not a native speaker, I think it's the limitation of foreigners for article usage.(usage or usages??)
    Last edited by keannu; 25-Oct-2011 at 04:09.

  7. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I understand I shouldn't say "train is...", so singular forms seem rarely used,
    Nobody has said that. Look back at Barb's post # 6.

  8. keannu's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    I remember reading that singular forms can be used in its wildest meaning as the general idea of nouns sometimes, but they don't seem to be used in normal cases even in word definition, so I'm just trying to verify it.

  9. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    There are a couple of things that could be misunderstood here, I think:
    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    Determine if the noun is countable (there is a limited number) or uncountable (there is no way to count all of these nouns)
    I don't think it has anything to do with 'a limited number' . Whether a noun is (always or sometimes) used uncountably can seem rather arbitrary. Some nouns which are considered to be countable in other languages are generally uncountable in English, for example, 'experience' (knowledge and skill) and 'news', and, for many people, 'accommodation'.

    Dreams (uncountable) occur when you sleep.
    No. This is the plural form of 'dream'.

    We can count money, but the noun 'money' is uncountable, except in certain specialised contexts.

    The only way a learner can know whether a noun is used countably or uncountably is to check in a good dictionary.
    5

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    #10

    Re: this is train!(a train!)

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    You need the article. "Train" is not a concept. "Trains" are things. If you are actually looking at or pointing at a train, at a photograph of a train, a painting of a train etc, then you need to say "This is a train". If there is more than one train then "These are trains".
    I can understand why this may be confusing for keannu. Sometimes, some nouns that do not denote concepts generally can be used without an article. "Man" is usually a concrete, countable noun. But Robert Burns writes
    There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
    In every hour that passes, O:
    What signifies the life o' man,
    An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.
    (Green Grow The Rashes, O)
    And some examples from COHA:
    Man is not man until his passion dies. (1810)
    Man unites in his nature these two forms of being. (1829)
    Man mutated like other animals. (1952)
    It may be difficult to understand for a learner why "man" can be an abstract noun and "train" cannot. I don't understand this.

    PS: In the last sentence "man" can be understood as mankind so it's not necessarily a good example.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 25-Oct-2011 at 10:21.

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