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    #1

    Why a word can be countable and uncountable?

    When looking up for a word in Longman Dictionary, I always found that there is a [C; U] just right before its definition. To my understanding, the usage of the word can be both "Countable" and "Uncountable" (That is here which has confused me so much). Take "memory" and "taste" as examples. I am at a loss as to when the uncountable or countable meaning of the words should be used. Correct me if I am wrong: the uncountable should be used if it conveys a general concept, otherwise the countable if it conveys a specific one. Thanks.


    mem‧o‧ry
    plural memories
    1
    ▶ABILITY TO REMEMBER◀
    [uncountable and countable] someone's ability to remember things, places, experiences etc
    My memory 's not as good as it once was.
    memory for
    She has a terrible memory for names.
    Those of you with long memories will remember this song. The pianist played the whole piece from memory . I'm speaking from memory , but I believe it was last May. The first symptom of the disease is often short-term memory loss. The image has remained in my memory ever since. If my memory serves me correctly , he lived in Paris for a while.

    *** ***
    taste
    1
    ▶FOOD◀
    a) [uncountable and countable]the feeling that is produced by a particular food or drink when you put it in your mouth
    ᅳsynonym flavour
    have a sweet/bitter/salty etc taste The medicine had a slightly bitter taste.
    taste of
    I don't really like the taste of meat any more.
    b) [uncountable] the sense by which you know one food from another
    Some birds have a highly developed sense of taste .
    c) have a taste (of something)
    if you have a taste of some food or drink, you put a small amount in your mouth to try it
    You must have a taste of the fruitcake.
    2
    ▶WHAT YOU LIKE◀
    [uncountable and countable] the kind of things that someone likes
    taste in
    We have similar tastes in music .
    taste for
    While she was in France she developed a taste for fine wines. He had acquired a taste for adventure . There are books to suit everyone's tastes . courses that cater for all tastes My wife has very expensive tastes . Choosing a wedding dress is all a matter of personal taste . His musical tastes changed radically as soon as he started college. The colours were much too bright for my taste . This type of event isn't to everyone's taste . 'Why did she marry someone like that?' ' There's no accounting for taste .' Olives are something of an acquired taste .

    (Extracts from Longman Dictionary)


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #2

    Re: Why a word can be countable and uncountable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    When looking up for a word in Longman Dictionary, I always found that there is a [C; U] just right before its definition. To my understanding, the usage of the word can be both "Countable" and "Uncountable" (That is here which has confused me so much). Take "memory" and "taste" as examples. I am at a loss as to when the uncountable or countable meaning of the words should be used. Correct me if I am wrong: the uncountable should be used if it conveys a general concept, otherwise the countable if it conveys a specific one. Thanks. You are absolutely correct.

    See here for a good account: English Grammar: Countable Nouns, Uncountable Nouns | EnglishClub.com

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