The country has rarely seen such (a) destruction before.

Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
Complete the sentences with such or such a/an followed by one of these words. Use a singular or plural form of the word as appropriate.
[...]
5. The earthquake demolished nearly all the houses in town. The country has rarely seen .......... before.
(Advanced Grammar in Use, Martin Hewings)

The book suggests "such destruction which I don't object to. However, I was wondering if "such a destruction" also works. It seems reasonable and I've found many citations of "such a destruction" in Google Books, but does it work here as well?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi CT

    I can't think of a situation in which I'd use countable destruction.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thanks, Loob.

    So you object to "such a destruction"? Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the results in Google Books, but what about this:

    [...]It is indeed impossible to say whether or not a plaintiff has suffered such a destruction of business without inquiry into events occuring after resumption, with reference particularly to the possibility of acquiring other suitable land;[...]
    (The Law Affecting Valuation of Land in Australia - Alan Aizley Hyam)

    Thank you in advance.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    Hi, there!
    I believe “such destruction” has a much more powerful force to it and that it refers to the vastness of the area destroyed, whereas “such a destruction” singles out the event, thus making it limited to a much smaller area.
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Thanks, Loob.

    So you object to "such a destruction"? Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the results in Google Books, but what about this:

    [...]It is indeed impossible to say whether or not a plaintiff has suffered such a destruction of business without inquiry into events occuring after resumption, with reference particularly to the possibility of acquiring other suitable land;[...]
    (The Law Affecting Valuation of Land in Australia - Alan Aizley Hyam)

    Thank you in advance.
    To clarify, does this mean in context "the destruction previously described by the plaintiff"? If so that is different than your original post in which I take "such" to mean "this magnitude of" destruction."
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, High on grammar and Embonpoint.

    To clarify, does this mean in context "the destruction previously described by the plaintiff"? If so that is different than your original post in which I take "such" to mean "this magnitude of" destruction."
    Truth be told, I don't know what it exactly means. I probably shouldn't post random quotations from Google Books :D.

    I'll just accept that "such a destruction" doesn't work in my orginal sentence.
     
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    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Thank you, High on grammar and Embonpoint.



    Truth be told, I don't know what it exactly means. I probably shouldn't post random quotations from Google Books :D.

    I'll just accept that "such a destruction" doesn't work in my orginal sentence.
    Countable "destruction" isn't impossible (although I agree with the others that uncountable destruction is much more likely). "A destruction" makes it specific to the type of destruction which is why the google quote works. "What type of destruction is it? It's a destruction of business without enquiry..." In your original example it is much more general. To try to be clearer - I think if you use "a destruction" then at the very least you have to go on to explain the type of destruction with "a destruction of....." and in your sentence you end with a full-stop after destruction which makes it too general to be countable. Putting "a destruction" here wouldn't be "wrong" wrong, but it certainly jars on the ear.
     
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