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Section 11.1.1.1

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are refer to items or concepts that maybe counted; thus, they may be either singular or plural. Although you can often tell whether a noun iscountable or uncountable by its meaning, thisdetermination is not always predictable. If you are unsure whether a given nounis countable or uncountable, check a specializeddictionary. The words laboratory, electron, andhypothesis are countable nouns (their plurals arelaboratories, electrons, and hypotheses).

Use the ending -s to form the plural of most countable nouns.

Always use an article or some other determiner before a singular countable noun.


Unacceptable

Largest jet plane holds enough fuel to drive ordinary car four times aroundworld.

Acceptable

The largest jet plane holds enough fuel to drivean ordinary car four times around theworld.

--"Take It or Leave It," Valley Comic News


Do not use an article before a plural countable noun unless you are restrictingthe interpretation of the noun in some way.


Unacceptable

For the most part, chemistry treats the atoms as if theywere the tiny yet solid balls of matter which stick togetherin the various arrangements to form substances of which theeveryday world is composed.

Acceptable

For the most part, chemistry treats atoms as if they were tiny yet solidballs of matter which stick together in various arrangements to formthe substances of which the everyday world is composed. [The last phrase, "of which . . . composed," restricts theinterpretation of the word "substances."]

--Philip Ball, Designing the Molecular World


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