fire or fires

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mfung

Member
china/chinese
Since the word "fire" could be countable or uncountable, are all the following sentences correct? 1.Firemen put out fire. 2.Firemen put out fires 3.Firemen put out a fire. 4 Firemen put out the fire. 5. Firemen put out the fires.
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    mfung said:
    Since the word "fire" could be countable or uncountable, are all the following sentences correct? 1.Firemen put out fire. 2.Firemen put out fires 3.Firemen put out a fire. 4 Firemen put out the fire. 5. Firemen put out the fires.
    I don't like #1.
    #2 is ok.
    #3-5 need "the" before "firemen."
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    elroy said:
    #3-5 need "the" before "firemen."
    I don't necessarily agree with this. It depends upon the context. Firemen in its plural form does not need the definite article.

    The fireman (one fireman) put out the fire. Here the article is necessary.

    Firemen as a group noun does not need the article in every situation, especially when the firemen (as a group) are not specified.

    Firemen from three different stations responded to four-alarm fire in a Brooklyn apartment building last night. Two firemen were injured when the roof of the building caved in. The injured firemen were rushed to Brooklyn memorial hospital and are reported to be in stable condition.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    GenJen54 said:
    I don't necessarily agree with this. It depends upon the context. Firemen in its plural form does not need the definite article.

    Firemen as a group noun does not need the article in every situation, especially when the firemen (as a group) are not specified.
    You are right - as you can see, I said #2 was ok.

    The reason I felt #3-5 would require an article is that those seemed to be dealing with specific fires, while #2 was a general statement about firemen and what they do. Of course, "the" could be "some," "many," or any other determiner, but I don't think the sentences works well idiomatically without anything before "firemen."

    I guess it's conceivable, though, but I don't think it sounds good.

    There was a fire yesterday. We called the fire department, and firemen came and put out the fire.

    I would prefer that sentence with "some" (or some other determiner) before "firemen."
     
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