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    #1

    Using Articles with Non/Un Count Nouns

    As an ESL instructor, we've been taught to teach our students that you do not use the article "a/an" with non or un-count nouns such as education or knowledge.

    If that's true, why do we say:

    "We need someone with a good knowledge of Chinese."

    and

    "The School gave me a good education."

    and

    "She has a good understanding of the subject."

    and

    "They have a deep distrust of the government."

    and

    "He has a great love for his job."

    All of the above use "a" with a non-count noun. How can we explain these exceptions to the rule.

    Thank you for your help!

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    #2

    Re: Using Articles with Non/Un Count Nouns

    All of those examples have an adjective describing the uncountable noun in question.

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    #3

    Re: Using Articles with Non/Un Count Nouns

    A lot of thanks to Soothing. This is a headache for most Chinese learners of English, and for me too. Could I ask whether all six sentences below good English?

    An education (= A level of education?) will help me make smart decisions concerning my future.
    Education (that is, not other things?) will help me make smart decisions concerning my future.

    This is an easy guide to a knowledge of the stars.
    This is an easy guide to knowledge of the stars.

    The job requires him to have knowledge of chemistry.
    The job requires him to have a knowledge of chemistry.



    Thank you again.
    Last edited by joham; 22-Apr-2012 at 00:41. Reason: sentences added.

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    #4

    Re: Using Articles with Non/Un Count Nouns

    "He has a great love for his job."

    All of the above use "a" with a non-count noun. How can we explain these exceptions to the rule.

    Thank you for your help!

    There is a further description of the uncountable noun, which entails more specific detailing. Specificity is best conveyed though an article (definite or indefinite), like in a host of other languages.

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