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    #1

    gems --- countable or uncountable?

    Hello teachers! Good morning from Japan.

    I have a question about the usage of the countable / uncountable
    form of gemstones (diamond, opal, etc...).

    When I look up these words in the dictionary, it says that
    they can be used both as a countable and uncountable
    noun.

    What exactly is the difference between the two, and if I were
    to use it in the following sentence, which should I use?

    "People started to live in the town after they found some
    opal(s) in a cave nearby."

    Thank you for your help as always!

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    #2

    Re: gems --- countable or uncountable?

    The plural form should be used in the example cited.

    "People started to live in the town after they found some
    opals in a cave nearby." (countable) 'A man made an opal necklace from what he found.' (uncountable)

    That takes care of the word opal. Now for the other problem in your example: "People started to live in the town..." As written, it sounds as if the people were in the town- but not living- before the opals were fround. Better to say something like, 'People came to live in the town after...' or 'People started moving to the town after...'

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    #3

    Re: gems --- countable or uncountable?

    Opal | Define Opal at Dictionary.com

    I disagree. I think opal is like coal, always singular except when discussing different varieties. In the dictionary, "opal" has no plural form given.

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    #4

    Re: gems --- countable or uncountable?

    You could use the mass noun in the original sentence.
    Opal was found in the cave. It was dug up, cut up and polished, and some opals were made out of it. A mass of opal in the earth is opal. A jewel made from this is an opal.

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    #5

    Re: gems --- countable or uncountable?

    Quote Originally Posted by J&K Tutoring View Post
    The plural form should be used in the example cited.

    "People started to live in the town after they found some
    opals in a cave nearby." (countable) 'A man made an opal necklace from what he found.' (uncountable)

    That takes care of the word opal. Now for the other problem in your example: "People started to live in the town..." As written, it sounds as if the people were in the town- but not living- before the opals were fround. Better to say something like, 'People came to live in the town after...' or 'People started moving to the town after...'
    I wonder what was living in the town before people started living there.

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    #6

    Re: gems --- countable or uncountable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    You could use the mass noun in the original sentence.
    Opal was found in the cave. It was dug up, cut up and polished, and some opals were made out of it. A mass of opal in the earth is opal. A jewel made from this is an opal.
    That's the pattern I would use.

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    #7

    Re: gems --- countable or uncountable?

    Sorry teachers for the late reply --- and thank you all for your comments.

    The idea of "mass noun" makes a lot of sense. I will be using the singular tense in the example that I cited.

    Once again, thank you all for your helpful answers!

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