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  1. Member
    Interested in Language
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      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
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      • Hong Kong
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Dec 2007
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    Grammatical usage in dictionary

    While looking up a dictionary, I have always found the definition of a word can be both uncountable and countable. I would like to know the reasons why, and in what ways I can use them properly in essays?

    To cite an example from Longman Dictionary:

    [uncountable and countable] a feeling that you like or love someone or something and that you would be unhappy without them

    a child's attachment(uncount) to its mother
    a romantic attachment(count)

    As shown above, how can we know when the word be used as an uncount or count?
    Why is that "attachment" can be defined as uncountable and countable under the same entry but falls short of providing any clues on their usage? Dear teachers, do you have any recommendations to resolve such a problem?

    The greater details of the explanation, the better.
    Thank you.
    Last edited by Deepurple; 02-Apr-2008 at 08:46.

  2. Editor,
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • British English
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      • UK
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    • Join Date: Nov 2002
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    Re: Grammatical usage in dictionary

    When we talk of 'a romantic attachment', it often carries the idea that it will not last for a long time. We can always stop feeling that way towards someone and move on to feel that way about someone else, making it countable. A child's attachment to their mother is not the same;it cannot end and be transferred to someone else in the way we can change our romantic feelings.

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