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    • Join Date: Dec 2006
    • Posts: 2
    #1

    Unhappy smoke & fumes

    I am puzzled with the word 'fumes'. Why 'fumes' is a plural noun ? There are such two sentences like 'Factories produce too much smoke.' and 'Vehicles make too many fumes.' I was asked to explain the reason for using plural with 'fumes'. I have no idea. Could you tell me the reason, please ? Thank you.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: smoke & fumes

    Welcome, cwk3003.

    fume, a singular noun, refers to a cloud of fine particles suspended in gas.

    fumes, a plural noun, refers to more than one cloud of fine particles suspended in gas.

    For example, cigarette fumes contain toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, acrolein, hydrogen cyanide, and nitrogen oxides. There are countless more.

    All the best.


    • Join Date: Dec 2006
    • Posts: 2
    #3

    Re: smoke & fumes

    But why 'smoke' can't be in terms of 'clouds' ?


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #4

    Re: smoke & fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by cwk3003 View Post
    But why can't 'smoke' [can't] be in terms of 'clouds' ?
    It's not that 'smoke' couldn't be, CWK, it's that it isn't. Certain words have become uncountable in English [for the most part] and they resist [again for the most part] being changed.

    'Chalk', the kind used in a classroom, is a good example. These days they are manufactured just like pens, in individual sticks. These pieces/sticks appear to be countable but we still don't say,

    "Give me a chalk".

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #5

    Re: smoke & fumes

    In addition,

    Fumes are made up of gases. Gases are invisible, whereas the smoke from a cigarette, for example, is produced by burning tobacco.

    All the best.

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