literature -- countable or uncountable?

krissugus

New Member
UK
Cantonese, Mandarin
Hi, when referred to published work, such as books and journal articles, is "literature" countable?? Is it correct to say "I have collected a lot of literature on environmental economics. I would like to use them in my research."?

Many thanks!
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I use it as uncountable:
    I have collected a lot of literature on environmental economics. I would like to use it in my research.
    I have collected a lot of literature on environmental economics that I would like to use in my research.

    Welcome to the forum. :)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    And you can use literatures in the plural to refer to different kinds of literary writing - eg 'the literatures of China, Japan and Korea'. But you are not talking about literary writing in your case.
     

    krissugus

    New Member
    UK
    Cantonese, Mandarin
    Thanks for your greeting. Good idea using the second sentence. :)

    I use it as uncountable:
    I have collected a lot of literature on environmental economics. I would like to use it in my research.
    I have collected a lot of literature on environmental economics that I would like to use in my research.

    Welcome to the forum. :)
     

    krissugus

    New Member
    UK
    Cantonese, Mandarin
    Thanks all for the replies and explanations. :)
    It seems the singular form is more widely used, except when it is referred to literary writings, as natkretep has mentioned...
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It seems the singular form is more widely used, except when it is referred to literary writings, as Natkretep has mentioned...
    Not so much literary writings per se as particular writings. The article is also often used when referring to a body of specialized scientific or technical writings, for example, "That disease was first described in the literature [meaning professional medical journals] in the 1980s."
     

    krissugus

    New Member
    UK
    Cantonese, Mandarin
    So in this case, should I refer the "literature" in your example as "it" or "they/them"? This is exactly what confuses me...


    Not so much literary writings per se as particular writings. The article is also often used when referring to a body of specialized scientific or technical writings, for example, "That disease was first described in the literature [meaning professional medical journals] in the 1980s."
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    So in this case, should I refer the "literature" in your example as "it" or "they/them"? This is exactly what confuses me...
    You'd refer to the literature in my example as "it". In fact the word is always handled as a singular noun, whether you're talking about uncountable literature (written material generally, as in the title of a college course) or with an article in reference to a particular category of published works.

    When I was in school, English Literature was [not "were"] one of my favorite classes.

    The literature of Japan includes [not "include"] some lovely poetry.

    And as Ribran says in post #3: There is [not "are"] a sizable literature on the topic.
     

    krissugus

    New Member
    UK
    Cantonese, Mandarin
    Thanks for the detailed explanation! :)


    You'd refer to the literature in my example as "it". In fact the word is always handled as a singular noun, whether you're talking about uncountable literature (written material generally, as in the title of a college course) or with an article in reference to a particular category of published works.

    When I was in school, English Literature was [not "were"] one of my favorite classes.

    The literature of Japan includes [not "include"] some lovely poetry.

    And as Ribran says in post #3: There is [not "are"] a sizable literature on the topic.
     
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