debt

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danielxu85

Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
I find "debt" sometimes have been used as countable noun, but sometimes uncountable. I am confused. Could you tell me the reasons? Besides "incur debts", what other verbs could usually go with "debts"? Could I "cause debts", "stimulate debts"? Any other options?

Most of these heavy debts were incurred in 1999, when the authorities encouraged universities to enrol more students.
 
  • coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    I find "debt" sometimes have been used as countable noun, but sometimes uncountable. I am confused. Could you tell me the reasons? Besides "incur debts", what other verbs could usually go with "debts"? Could I "cause debts", "stimulate debts"? Any other options?

    Most of these heavy debts were incurred in 1999, when the authorities encouraged universities to enrol more students.
    Hi Daniel,

    Although strict dichotomies are often described between mass and count nouns, quite a few are on a continuum and can be considered either countable or not. "Debt" is an example of that. When a noun can be either, you should think that the noun used with an article denotes "an instance of" the mass noun in question and functions as a countable noun.

    You could say, "Debt is a terrible burden." (mass)
    You could also say "He has many debts." In this last example, the debts are specific, i.e. $5,000 to John, $4,000 to Mary, $6,000 to the Bank, etc. So in this usage, it's a countable noun.

    A few examples of other such nouns are beauty, truth, crime, and law.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Coiffe has given you excellent advice, Daniel. For what it's worth I think your sentence is excellent.

    In BE we would say to accept rather than to enroll (notice spelling). The student enrolls; the university accepts him. In AE your usage may be correct. The overall structure and flow of your sentence are excellent. Don't change it.
     

    mrbilal87

    Senior Member
    English (NAmE)
    Besides "incur debts", what other verbs could usually go with "debts"? Could I "cause debts", "stimulate debts"? Any other options?
    Off the top of my head, some verbs that go with debt:

    accumulate debts.
    manage debts.
    pay off debts.
    settle debts.
    collect debts.

    I agree with coiffe about the use of debt as a mass and as a countable noun. "Debt" can be described in mass when you're referring to the concept of having to owe something. But when you're referring to each thing you owe individually, you can use "debts". Also note that, although in Canada "enrol" is correct, in the U.S. "enroll" is preferred. Universities accept students when they enroll.
     

    gazs9c

    Member
    Azerbaijani
    Hello everyone! I am recording down every piece of money that I lend to someone and that I owe to somebody/borrowed from somebody in a piece of paper, including date. Now I would appreciate If someone tells me how the native speakers call this list. I searched for 'debt list' on internet there were some results. But I feel something is wrong with this way of naming. Thanks in advance!
     

    gazs9c

    Member
    Azerbaijani
    In my notebook, I'm assigning the tasks for myself to do. for example: 1) Buy two breads; 2) pack up my backpack; 3) Update the debt list (as someone paid me back money he owed me, now I want to record these changes in my notebook) Thanks
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I would be more likely to say 'list of debts.'
    However, I understand 'debts' as the money you owe.

    If you are making a list of payments someone is making on money they owe you, you might say something like: "List of payments received."
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    A list of amounts owed or owing is usually referred to as "accounts." (Plural even when there is only one list.) ->

    1) Buy two breads loaves; 2) pack up my backpack; 3) Update accounts (as someone paid me back money he owed me, now I want to record these changes in my notebook)
     

    gazs9c

    Member
    Azerbaijani
    Many thanks to you all! How should I call that notebook which includes those list of amounts?
     
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