article before the word "proof"

Evgen

Member
Russian, Ukrainian
Hi everyone!
This is from the book "Triumph of the sun" written by Wilbur Smith:
"All that you tell me, Osman Atalan, pleases God. Your words are as honey on your lips and sweet music in my ears. But have you brought me proof that what you say
is true"
Why is there the word "proof" is used without any article in the sentence above? I would put in the pronoun "any" before the word "proof".
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Proof is an uncountable noun and therefore does not take the indefinite article.

    "I have experience of repairing cars."
    "I gave you guidance on grammar."
    "Give him money."

    The bold words are all uncountable nouns.
     

    Evgen

    Member
    Russian, Ukrainian
    Really?? Thanks!
    I just have always thought that "proof" is a countable noun...
    At least as it's in my native language...

    Despite of that, I guess it would not be a mistake to use the pronoun "any", as I said above. Is it right?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In fact 'proof' can be countable or uncountable depending on the context. There are proofs (countable) in printing and in mathematics for example. In criminal law, proof is uncountable.

    As PaulQ says, it is uncountable in this context.

    Yes, you can use "any".
     

    Evgen

    Member
    Russian, Ukrainian
    In fact 'proof' can be countable or uncountable depending on the context. There are proofs (countable) in printing and in mathematics for example. In criminal law, proof is uncountable.

    As PaulQ says, it is uncountable in this context.

    Yes, you can use "any".
    As to if the word "prof" is countable or uncountable in this context(and in criminal law as well). In this situation the point is about proving of that one man is dead. It could be for example:
    - a photo of that dead man
    - the head of that man
    - that dead man himself
    I guess all those things are proofs...
    So, why cannot be the word "proof" countable in this context?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As to if the word "prof" is countable or uncountable in this context(and in criminal law as well). In this situation the point is about proving of that one man is dead. It could be for example:
    - a photo of that dead man
    - the head of that man
    - that dead man himself
    I guess all those things are proofs...
    So, why cannot be the word "proof" countable in this context?
    Unfortunately they just aren't! :) You cannot use reasoning to defeat an idiom.

    Those things are all evidence. If you collect enough evidence then you have proof.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    As to if the word "prof" is countable or uncountable in this context(and in criminal law as well). In this situation the point is about proving of that one man is dead. It could be for example:
    - a photo of that dead man
    - the head of that man
    - that dead man himself
    I guess all those things are proofs...
    So, why cannot be the word "proof" countable in this context?
    No! This is a common mistake by non-native speakers, and it sounds terrible. They are not proofs: one or all of them is proof.

    Do not use proof in the plural.

    When Biffo spoke about proof being countable, he was talking about rare or specialised uses of the word.
    When Biffo said 'criminal', he probably intended to say, "a demonstration of conclusive evidence."

    1. "We have found his fingerprints on the gun! We have the proof that he held the gun."
    2. "We have found his fingerprints on the gun; we have traced the gun to him, we have a photograph of him with the gun! We have the proof that he held the gun."
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Unfortunately they just aren't! :) You cannot use reasoning to defeat an idiom.

    Those things are all evidence.
    The head of the man or his body seems pretty conclusive to me...

    The uncountability of the noun proof is not an idiom.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Dear PaulQ, I respectfully ask you to actually read what others say.
    ...When Biffo spoke about proof being countable, he was talking about rare or specialised uses of the word. ..."
    The uses of proofs (countable) in mathematics and printing are specialised but they aren't rare.
    When Biffo said 'criminal', he probably intended to say, "a demonstration of conclusive evidence."
    I intended nothing of the sort. I meant precisely what I said, i.e. that, in the context of law, proof is uncountable.
    ...The uncountability of the noun proof is not an idiom.
    It is precisely to do with idiom. A detective finds proof not proofs. There is no logical reason that she couldn't be said to find proofs of a crime. In some languages (for example Evgen's) she actually could.

    It is purely down to idiom that we use proof uncountably in the context ot the original sentence.
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    I would say that one can use "a proof".
    A: Well he must have done it.
    B: Give me a proof.
    A: Well his fingerprints are on the knife.
    or
    A: Give me a proof that the that the the square root of 2 is irrational.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The uses of proofs (countable) in mathematics and printing are specialised but they aren't rare.
    I said specialised or rare, not and.
    I intended nothing of the sort. I meant precisely what I said, i.e. that, in the context of law, proof is uncountable.
    You specifically mention "criminal law"
    It is precisely to do with idiom. A detective finds proof not proofs. There is no logical reason that she couldn't be said to find proofs of a crime.
    But equaslly well there is no illogicality in it, so I cannot see your point. An uncountable noun describes a group with homogeneous attributes.
    In some languages (for example Evgen's) she actually could.
    Yes, I know: but this is English.
    It is purely down to idiom that we use proof uncountably in the context ot the original sentence.
    No, not really.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would say that one can use "a proof".
    A: Well he must have done it.
    B: Give me a proof.
    A: Well his fingerprints are on the knife.
    ...
    With the utmost respect djmc, I think you may have been living in France for too long. :)

    Your dialogue is simply not idiomatic English. B would say "Give me some proof."

    A: Give me a proof that the that the the square root of 2 is irrational.
    Yes of course that is correct. Who says otherwise?
     
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