A Little Trouble in Dublin

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brian&me

Senior Member
Chinese - China
Trouble is usually an uncountable noun. Never say ‘a trouble’.

(from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

But I read a book named A Little Trouble in Dublin published by Cambridge University Press.

I’d like to know if when there’s a modifier before ‘trouble’, we can also use ‘a’ before it.

Thanks a lot in advance.
 
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The article is attached to little rather than trouble.

    We can say a little salt, a little rice, a little wine, a little encouragement and so on.
     

    brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks, Natkretep.
    I think I've got it.
    We can say a little trouble, but we can't say a small trouble. That is to say a little trouble doesn't mean a small trouble.
    Am I right?
    Thanks again.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    You are correct. "A little trouble" does not mean "a trouble: a little one".

    When we say "a little <uncountable noun>" we mean "a little bit of <noun>" or "a small amount of <noun>".
     

    brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks, dojibear.

    I read this sentence in Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary:

    The only trouble is we won't be here then.

    I wonder if 'trouble' in this sentence a countable or an uncountable noun.

    Thanks a lot.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Trouble can be countable too, used to mean roughly the same thing as 'problem' although we still do not talk about 'a trouble' [see below]. However, we often talk about 'troubles', for example, 'All of this added to his troubles'.
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Never say ‘a trouble’.
    although we still do not talk about 'a trouble'.
    :confused:

    From the British National Corpus:
    "There is plenty of truth in the cliche that a trouble shared is a trouble halved."
    "They would think he was bound to get ill and be a trouble to them."
    "Miss Louisa is a lovely, gracious lady and I wouldn't wish to be a trouble to her."
    "Of course, all this is a trouble to do, but it makes an excellent and not very expensive first dish for a luncheon for four people."
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks, Andy. I was experiencing a brain freeze. :eek: Yes, of course. All of those sound perfectly natural.
     

    brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    :confused:

    From the British National Corpus:
    "There is plenty of truth in the cliche that a trouble shared is a trouble halved."
    "They would think he was bound to get ill and be a trouble to them."
    "Miss Louisa is a lovely, gracious lady and I wouldn't wish to be a trouble to her."
    "Of course, all this is a trouble to do, but it makes an excellent and not very expensive first dish for a luncheon for four people."
    Thanks, Andy.
    So what that Longman dictionary says is not quite true?
     
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