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    #1

    Question about plurals

    As a non-native speaker of English, I find the problem that bothers me most is the use of plurals. I understand from grammar that when you refer to something that is not specific, you should use plurals if it is countable or use just the word itself if it is not. For example,

    Tigers run fast.
    Water is vital to the human being.

    But I always find it difficult to decide whether some words are countable or not. For example, are these words countable: capital spending, investment, liquidity, recession, asset, cancellation, build? Are there any guidance (here, guidance is another example) or rules of thumb for this? Thanks for your help!

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Question about plurals

    Quote Originally Posted by spaceniuzai View Post
    As a non-native speaker of English, I find the problem that bothers me most is the use of plurals. I understand from grammar that when you refer to something that is not specific, you should use plurals if it is countable or use just the word itself if it is not. For example,

    Tigers run fast.
    Water is vital to the human being.

    But I always find it difficult to decide whether some words are countable or not. For example, are these words countable: capital spending, investment, liquidity, recession, asset, cancellation, build? Are there any guidance (here, guidance is another example) or rules of thumb for this? Thanks for your help!
    Investment, recession, asset, and cancellation can all be pluralized:

    He has lost money from most of his investments. It always happens during recessions, when he loses assets. And when the newspaper he worked at got too many subscription cancellations, it went out of business. So now he's at a spa in Switzerland, enjoying the waters.


    I can't think of a rule. Maybe someone else will know one.

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]

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    #3

    Re: Question about plurals

    Hi Charlie, thanks a lot for your help and the clever creation with all of the words I asked Yes, I am really looking for a rule to decide whether to use plurals or not. For example, why spending can't be pluralized but investment can? I don't see the reasons behind the different treatment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Investment, recession, asset, and cancellation can all be pluralized:

    He has lost money from most of his investments. It always happens during recessions, when he loses assets. And when the newspaper he worked at got too many subscription cancellations, it went out of business. So now he's at a spa in Switzerland, enjoying the waters.


    I can't think of a rule. Maybe someone else will know one.

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]

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    #4

    Re: Question about plurals

    I just want to follow up on my earlier question on how to decide whether a given word is countable or not in English. Any comments and suggestions are highly appreciated.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Question about plurals

    I've never seen a rule, but I'm not a teacher. It might be one of those ten million things in English that just has to be memorized. Maybe one of the teachers has some good advice....


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    #6

    Re: Question about plurals

    'spending': this is the money that is used for a particular purpose. If it is used for one particular purpose, how can it be pluralized to take into account multiple purposes?

    "Government spending on education has......."

    'liquidity': this is the availability of money to a person or company. It either is or isn't available, so the concept of having two or more 'liquidities' becomes nonsensical. Two or more liquidity problems over time, yes.

    'build': are you sure you mean this as a noun? The only noun, 'build', I know of is as a step along the way in writing the programming language for, say, a computer operating system. A further 'build' might incorporate more features into it.

    So - it's less to do with a 'rule', and far more to do with the actual meaning of the word!
    Last edited by David L.; 20-Mar-2009 at 00:11.

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