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    #1

    Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    Hello,

    The uncountable nouns are those nouns which take no article before themselves, but in many cases I see definite article "The" used before them.

    Can we always use "the" before uncountable or even plural nouns? If that's so, what's the difference between this usage and putting not a definite article before them?

    Let me clarify it with an example:

    I have to love the diversity.

    I have to love diversity.

    I think both are correct, but I don't know when I am allowed to put "the" before uncountable nouns.

    Regards,

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Flogger View Post
    The uncountable nouns are those nouns which take no article before themselves,
    Nouns used uncountably can and do take the definite article, whenever we are speaking of a defined amount/mass of the thing denoted.
    I have to love the diversity.

    I have to love diversity.
    The first is possible only if the diversity spoken about is defined/restricted in some way -I have to love the diversity I find in Manchester.

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    #3

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Nouns used uncountably can and do take the definite article, whenever we are speaking of a defined amount/mass of the thing denoted.

    The first is possible only if the diversity spoken about is defined/restricted in some way -I have to love the diversity I find in Manchester.
    Dear Piscean I know that the definite article gives us a clue of something mentioned before, but the problem is I have many times seen that the first sentence of an article which has got an uncountable noun has taken a definite article! Surely, in such cases we have to read through the article to get the idea of that thing.

    I'm not a native speaker of English but I feel that it must have got another reason when people use "the" before uncountable nouns.

  2. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    I'm not a native speaker either, but I feel that the following could be a reason.

    1. I drink water every day.
    2. I drink the water from the well every day.

    I use 'the' because I am referring to the specific water drawn from the well.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #5

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Flogger View Post
    Dear Piscean, I know that the definite article gives us a clue of something mentioned before...
    ...which is why the opening sentence of your post should be

    The 'Uncountable nouns are those ...'

  3. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Flogger View Post
    I know that the definite article gives us a clue of something mentioned before,
    I didn't say anything about 'mentioned before'. The restriction can come after the uncountable noun (the wine we had with our meal last night was very good), or merely be implied. (We drank mainly beer when we lived in China; the wine was very expensive, and far too sweet). It is fairly clear in my second example I that I am talking about only the wine that we tried. I could have chosen to speak of just wine in general; speakers sometimes have free choice, and there is sometimes no significant difference.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    This is the second time that you have indicated that you believe the use of the definite article has something to do with something having been mentioned before. It doesn't. It can be used that way but that's not the only way it is used.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #8

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    This is the second time that you have indicated that you believe the use of the definite article has something to do with something having been mentioned before. It doesn't. It can be used that way but that's not the only way it is used.
    Do you always count what I ask each time?

    But seriously I still have got problem with the usage of definite article before uncountable nouns because we have not almost such structure in Persian.

    I would appreciate your telling me what you do think about "water" when you hear it in the below conversation.

    A: what happened?

    B: Nothing, she fell into the water.

    I know that you presumable say: "the water" is a specific kind of water and "water" is general! But the question is about what kind of water you do think when you hear "the water".

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    "The water" simply indicates that it was a specific body of water that she fell into. It's possible to say "She fell into water" but it wouldn't sound natural and it would almost certainly elicit a follow-up question such as "Really? Where?"

    "She fell in the water" is specific to the body of water located wherever she was (swimming pool, lake, ocean etc).
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Using "the" before uncountable nouns

    'She fell into the water' = 'She fell into the water near her'.


    Is that correct?
    I am not a teacher.

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