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    #1

    a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    Hi,

    I have a question on a countable/uncountable nouns. A friend of mine who is teaching English said chalk can be either countable and uncountable when the word refers to a stick of chalk used on a blackboard. So, she said a chalk was acceptable. I was taught to write/say a piece of chalk. However, when I referred to a dictionary, the word 'chalk' is signposted with [C/U]. Now, I'm confused. Please clarify this.


    Thanks

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    "A chalk" is incorrect. If used as a countable noun, then you need to say "a piece/stick of chalk". If used as an uncountable noun, then "chalk" is fine.

    I wrote the words on the blackboard with a piece of chalk.
    I wrote the words on the blackboard with chalk.

    We also say:

    I wrote the words on the blackboard in chalk.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    Chalk is no doubt a conventionally uncountable noun. As you generally write "a piece of chalk" and "chalk" only, there is no use of word in which you use chalk with any counting numbers.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    Quote Originally Posted by alenjones23 View Post
    As you generally write "a piece of chalk" and "chalk" only, there is no use of word in which you use chalk with any counting numbers.
    I am not quite sure what you mean by that.

    What teachers use, or used to use, is, as ems said, 'chalk' or 'a piece of chalk'. However, artists may use pencils, pastels, chalks, etc in their work. As a teacher in the good old days of blackboards, I always had a box of coloured chalk (containing different coloured sticks of chalk) in my classroom. I believe that an artist would have a box of coloured chalks.

    (See 'black and coloured chalks here.)

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    #5

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    This might be of interest, on "a chalk" and "a long chalk".
    World Wide Words: Not by a long chalk
    Last edited by JMurray; 03-Jul-2012 at 06:44.

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    #6

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    Quote Originally Posted by alenjones23 View Post
    Chalk is no doubt a conventionally uncountable noun. As you generally write "a piece of chalk" and "chalk" only, there is no use of word in which you use chalk with any counting numbers.
    This is confusing, alenjones, especially when following an informed reply from an experienced teacher.

    Please read this extract from the forum guidelines:

    You are welcome to answer questions posted in the Ask a Teacher forum as long as your suggestions, help, and advice reflect a good understanding of the English language. If you are not a teacher, you will need to state that clearly at the top of your post.

    Rover
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 03-Jul-2012 at 09:09.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    In the middle of the night last night, the phrase "not by a long chalk" popped into my head with regard to this thread! JMurray beat me to it, though I would still say that in everyday usage, whilst that idiom is very common, we don't say "I have two chalks" or similar.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #8

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    And, as it's open season on 'chalk' collocations, there is the slightly informal phrasal verb 'chalk up'.

    b

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    #9

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I am not quite sure what you mean by that.

    What teachers use, or used to use, is, as ems said, 'chalk' or 'a piece of chalk'. However, artists may use pencils, pastels, chalks, etc in their work. As a teacher in the good old days of blackboards, I always had a box of coloured chalk (containing different coloured sticks of chalk) in my classroom. I believe that an artist would have a box of coloured chalks.

    (See 'black and coloured chalks here.)
    From that I infer that if you talk about chalk used in schools for writing on a blackboard, then chalk is uncountable. When you talk about the chalk that artists use (perhaps a slightly different kind of chalk than is used in schools?), then chalk is countable. Is my deduction correct?
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

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    #10

    Re: a piece of chalk versus a chalk.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarloSsS View Post
    From that I infer that if you talk about chalk used in schools for writing on a blackboard, then chalk is uncountable. When you talk about the chalk that artists use (perhaps a slightly different kind of chalk than is used in schools?), then chalk is countable. Is my deduction correct?
    Generally speaking, yes, especially if they are speaking of individual sticks. When I was searching around he net, I got the impression that suppliers of the product to artists are not very consistent when they advertise boxes of chalk(s).

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