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  1. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #11

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I agree about the difference, but why do you stress all?
    I mean that the minimal difference of countability between two noun phrases is a difference in meaning. What I'm saying is responsibility and a responsibility have different meanings (word meanings).

    So, when "responsibility" is specified by the "to do something" part, it's countable.
    Well, the 'to do something' part makes no difference to the basic meaning of the noun itself. I'm talking about the concept that is denoted by the noun phrase. Any context serves merely to make the speaker's utterance as a whole more comprehensible.

    For example, the article in "I have a responsibility to protect these people" is required, right?
    Well, I wouldn't say it's 'required' but yes, that thought is well expressed with a countable noun. Phrased in jutfrank terms: the speaker meaning that the speaker wishes to express is well served here by the countable use of the word responsibility. Also, equally importantly, the hearer will understand something about the way the speaker conceives of the noun by his countable use of it, which will contribute to the understanding of the utterance as a whole.

    I hope that makes some sense. I've just read it back and I think it does. Let me know if so/not.

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    #12

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Well, I wouldn't say it's 'required' but yes, that thought is well expressed with a countable noun.
    What's the difference between well/poorly expressed and grammatical/ungrammatical? If I said, "I gave him a good advice," what would you call it?

    I've found the following examples with obligation:

    1. "Board members of the Bundesbank are under obligation to show restraint in their political activities." (The New York Times)
    2. "Whatever Mr. Bush's choice, Mr. Dukakis said, Mr. Gore is still under obligation to pick someone who could step into the job of president." (The New York Times)

    3. "At some point, he began to feel that he was under an obligation to marry her." (The New Yorker)
    4. "He is under an obligation to manage the business so that profits are maximised." (The Guardian - Opinion)

    I can't understand why obligation is uncountable in the first two. Are they well or poorly expressed?
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    #13

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    If I said, "I gave him a good advice," what would you call it?
    It's ungrammatical.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #14

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    If I said no comma here "I gave him a good advice", what would you call it?
    I would call it wrong/incorrect [because it's ungrammatical].
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  5. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #15

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    What's the difference between well/poorly expressed and grammatical/ungrammatical?
    I'm using 'well expressed' to mean that the thoughts in the minds of the speaker and listener bear a good resemblance. I'm not talking about grammar. If I say something and you understand very well what I mean, we can say my thought was well expressed.

    I can't understand why obligation is uncountable in the first two. Are they well or poorly expressed?
    You seem to have misunderstood what I meant by 'well expressed'. See above.

    Numbers 1 and 2 are fine. I think I've already answered why obligation is uncountable there. Again, my answer is very simple: because that's what the speaker means. I'll say again the point I'm trying (badly) to get across: A difference in countability is a difference in meaning.

    In my opinion, all this context you keep providing is serving both to unnecessarily complicate the issue and to confuse you. I believe you need to get to the very basics of what countability is, and then work down from there.

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    #16

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    A difference in countability is a difference in meaning
    OK, I see it's not a grammar issue. I'll try to simplify things and clarify my difficulty with the following example:

    Suppose somebody tells you "I want to show you a picture of a broken glass", and then you see this: Click image for larger version. 

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    I think you would be confused expecting to see something like this: Click image for larger version. 

Name:	ef1b05323f635013a2d232dfb1d13832--shattered-glass-broken-glass.jpg 
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    Can you think of any situation where you would be confused either by "I'm under an obligation to protect these people" or "I'm under obligation to protect these people"?
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  7. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #17

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    I really like your glass example because I think it illustrates the idea of countability very well (a theory of things versus stuff). Though to be picky, I wouldn't be 'confused'—perhaps just surprised.

    Can you think of any situation where you would be confused either by "I'm under an obligation to protect these people" or "I'm under obligation to protect these people"?
    No, those utterances wouldn't be confusing or surprising at all. I don't follow your point here.

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    #18

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    No, those utterances wouldn't be confusing or surprising at all. I don't follow your point here.
    I'm not just talking about the utterances, neither of which is surprising or confusing by itself, but about the utterances in a real life situation. We can easily imagine a situation where a broken glass would be surprising. Can you imagine situations where each of the obligation utterances would confuse or surprise you in terms of countability? I honestly don't know how to put it more simply.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 21-Sep-2020 at 12:58.
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  9. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #19

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    Sorry, I'm completely lost now. Maybe other members can answer.

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    #20

    Re: responsibility vs life vs time (countability)

    I feel helpless. I don't understand why you're lost.
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