a sickly suds

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Senior Member
That afternoon Stu found Frannie washing clothes in the small yard behind their building. She had filled a low wash-tub with water, had shaken in nearly half a box of Tide, and had stirred everything with a mop-handle until a sickly suds had resulted. She doubted if she was going about this in the right way, but she was damned if she was going to go to Mother Abagail and expose her ignorance.
Source: The Stand by Stephen King

Isn't sickly suds plural? Why the indefinite singular article 'a' before the plural noun 'studs'? I understand suds is short for soap suds (soap bubbles) and sickly is an adjective and it means unpleasant to look at.

Other expression I looked up:
She was damned if = she will certainly not do

Thank you.
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The author thinks of "suds" as singular like "barracks". Creative writers invent words, and Steven King is certainly no exception.

    "Sickly" may refer to the effect on other sense organs beside the eyes.


    English - England
    Suds is the foam that appears on a soap/water mixture when the mixture is agitated. suds - WordReference.com Dictionary of English

    Suds is only plural and is uncountable (In the same way that "goods" = merchandise is plural and uncountable.)

    However, when adjectivally qualified, an uncountable noun may be qualified by "a" where "a" = "an example of" and thus describes a particular sort of uncountable noun.

    Compare "Knowledge is valuable." / "Even an elementary knowledge is valuable."
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