abuse and threats (singular and plural)

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Allegro molto

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello

……, according to a U. S. government indictment that charged 29 Somalis and Somali-Americans with drawing young girls into prostitution over the last decade, using abuse and threats to keep them in line, and other crimes.
(from A dark side immigrants’ tale, IHT)

In the sentence above, the words abuse and threats are used in the uncountable sense for “abuse” and in the countable sense for “threat”, respectively.
There are other possibilities of combinations of the two nouns, i.e. abuses and threats, abuse and threat, abuses and threat, and other combinations. Why was the combination “abuse and threats” chosen in the sentence above?

Thank you
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hello AM.
    There are other possibilities of combinations of the two nouns, i.e. abuses and threats, abuse and threat, abuses and threat
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. None of the other combinations sounds at all right to me.
    Uncountable abuse because it's the generic term for different forms of abuse: physical abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, etc.
    Countable threats because ... well, uncountable threat tends to refer to the abstract concept of 'threateningness', while here it means actual individual acts of threatening.
     

    Allegro molto

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Hello, ewie

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    There are other possibilities of combinations of the two nouns, i.e. abuses and threats, abuse and threat, abuses and threat, and other combinations.


    Please consider the case of “abuses and threats” in which I mean actual individual acts of abuse. Is this adequate or not?
    (A dictionary gives “put a stop to political abuses”.)

    Thank you
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    An abuse is usually something like a breaking of a rule or a contravening of an established order or way of doing things (bit difficult to put into words, really:eek:)
    The president giving all the top jobs to his relatives was a flagrant abuse of power.
    Voting more than once is an abuse of the electoral system.

    etc.

    It doesn't work in your sentence because an abuse doesn't mean 'an act of physical/mental/verbal (etc.) abuse' ~ it means 'an abusing [of ... well, see above:)]
     

    AlanT

    Senior Member
    American English
    Please consider the case of “abuses and threats” in which I mean actual individual acts of abuse. Is this adequate or not?
    (A dictionary gives “put a stop to political abuses”.)

    Thank you
    Hello Allegro molto,

    In this case, I'd have to agree with ewie. There are many kinds of abuse, but we just call the whole thing "abuse" in general - even if they are individual acts. It is rare that we would make it plural.

    Hope that helps,

    Alan
     
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