a knowledge of ('knowledge' as countable)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by eli7, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. eli7

    eli7 Senior Member

    Tehran; Iran
    Persian; Farsi
    Is this sentence grammatically correct?

    I have a good knowledge of medical topics.

    I think because "knowledge" is uncountable, we cannot use "a" before it. But I have seen this form of usage of knowledge a lot.
    Can anyone please explain it and say the grammatical point?
     
  2. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, it's correct. I think you have to think of a knowledge of something as a special case. Here is a portion of the usage note from the Macmillian Dictionary:

     
  3. eli7

    eli7 Senior Member

    Tehran; Iran
    Persian; Farsi
    Thank you. So, if I use "a knowledge of" without the article"a", it won't be a correct form? or both are correct?
     
  4. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think omitting 'a' does not make it ungrammatical, but the meaning might be a little different, and it might sound less idiomatic.

    'I have good knowledge of biology' makes me focus on the knowledge being good rather than something else (say useless​), and even so I would be inclined to change the preposition to 'about'.

    In 'I have a good knowledge of biology', a good knowledge means much knowledge.
     

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