Uncountable nouns - an exercise

Hela

Senior Member
Tunisia - French
Dear teachers,

Would you please tell me if the following sentences are correct? Please check the underlined elements and tell me if something else should be written instead.

1) a) We could hear (a) some roars / b) bursts / c) a roar of laughter (d) coming from the corridor.

2) Different jams were exposed on the market stalls.

3) Several toothpastes were distributed to the children.

4) a) Debris of glass b) was/were (?) scattered all over the floor.

5) Millions of a) sheeps were killed on the day of the b) Aïd El Kebir (spelling? = Muslim feast).

6) These a) types (?) / b) patterns of behaviour are unacceptable in such an institution.

7) I bought a lot of fruits in the market on Sunday.
(Do we say “a piece of fruit”? When is ‘fruit’ countable and when is it not?)

8) Two a) kits (?) / b) pieces of furniture will be delivered.

Thank you in advance.
All the best,
Hela

 
  • jess oh seven

    Senior Member
    UK/US English
    i'm not going to give you the exact correct answers because this looks like a homework assignment and i'm not going to do your homework for you ;)

    1) a) We could hear (a) some roars / b) bursts / c) a roar of laughter (d) coming from the corridor. - i don't know which option you've chosen here??

    2) Different jams were exposed on the market stalls. - This makes sense, but the verb "expose" doesn't really fit


    3) Several toothpastes were distributed to the children. - We don't tend to say "toothpastes", rather "kinds/types of toothpaste" or something similar.

    4) a) Debris of glass b) was/were (?) scattered all over the floor. - Do you think "debris" is singular or plural?

    5) Millions of a) sheeps were killed on the day of the b) Aïd El Kebir (spelling? = Muslim feast). - "sheeps" is not the plural of "sheep".

    6) These a) types (?) / b) patterns of behaviour are unacceptable in such an institution. - I'm not too sure what this is trying to say

    7) I bought a lot of fruits in the market on Sunday.
    (Do we say “a piece of fruit”? When is ‘fruit’ countable and when is it not?) - I'm not exactly sure when fruit is countable and when it isn't, but have another look at your sentence.

    8) Two a) kits (?) / b) pieces of furniture will be delivered. - Again, I don't understand why you'd choose one option here over another.
     

    Sabelotodo

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    These are what I would write:

    1) We could hear bursts of laughter coming from the hall. We could hear a burst of laughter coming from the hall. We could hear roars of laughter coming from the hall. OR We could hear a roar of laughter coming from the hall. (I don't like the word corridor--but that's just my preference.)

    2) Different jams were displayed in the market stalls.

    3) Several toothpastes were distributed to the children. (If you mean several types of toothpaste.) Otherwise: Several tubes of toothpaste were distributed to the children.

    4) Shards of broken glass were scattered all over the floor.

    5) Millions of sheep were killed on the day of the Eid. (The commemorative stamp issued by the United States Post Office spelled the holiday that way.)
    (Sheep is the plural of sheep--no change.)

    6) These patterns of behaviour are unacceptable in such an institution.

    7) I bought a lot of fruits in the market on Sunday. (If you mean many types of fruit.)
    I bought a lot of fruit in the market on Sunday. (If you mean a large quantity.)

    8) Two pieces of furniture will be delivered. (If you mean ready-to-use furniture.)
    Two furniture kits will be delivered. (If you mean furniture in pieces in a box, which must be assembled.)

    I hope I have been helpful.
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    To Jesse and all those interested in my question,

    This is NOT an assignment. These are sentences I have created myself and I'm asking you the native speakers to help me find which version would be best. If many versions are possible would you please tell me about them?

    Gratefully yours,
    Hela
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    Hello Sabelotodo,

    Thank you for your reply and comments. This is exactly the type of answer I was hoping for. :)

    Here are three more sentences to be corrected if you wouldn't mind:

    9) Some a) cubes / b) lumps / c) spoonfuls of sugar should be mixed with the flour.

    10) Ten a) yards / b) metres of cloth are needed to upholster my sofa.

    11) Two a) soaps / b) bars of soap will be provided. (Is it possible to put 'soap' in the plural?)


    Are there other comments from other members?

    Best wishes,
    Hela
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    1) We could hear bursts of laughter coming from the hall. We could hear a burst of laughter coming from the hall. We could hear roars of laughter coming from the hall. OR We could hear a roar of laughter coming from the hall. (I don't like the word corridor--but that's just my preference.)


    for a BE speaker a hall and a corridor are different concepts.
    A corridor is specifically a passage in a building or train, with doors leading to rooms or compartments.
    A hall can be a room or space just inside the front entrance,
    or it can be a large room - concert hall, dining hall.

    AE uses hall to mean a corridor in a building, BE does not.


    2) Different jams were displayed in the market stalls.

    I would say displayed on the market stalls, or displayed in the market.


    5) Millions of sheep were killed on the day of the Eid.
    (Sheep is the plural of sheep--no change.)

    Not sure about "the day of the Eid".
    I think it would be better to write "the feast of Eid"

    Eid el Kebir would not mean much to non-Muslims, neither would its more usual name Eid ul-Adha.


     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Hela said:
    Hello Sabelotodo,

    Thank you for your reply and comments. This is exactly the type of answer I was hoping for. :)

    Here are three more sentences to be corrected if you wouldn't mind:

    9) Some a) cubes/b) lumps/ c) spoonfuls of sugar should be mixed with the flour.

    10) Ten a) yards/b) metres of cloth are needed to upholster my sofa.

    11) Two a) soaps / b) bars of soap will be provided. (Is it possible to put 'soap' in the plural?)


    Are there other comments from other members?

    Best wishes,
    Hela


    9) Some a) cubes/b) lumps/ c) spoonfuls of sugar should be mixed with the flour.

    Grammatically, all three are correct.
    But logically only spoonfuls of sugar can be mixed with flour.


    10) Ten a) yards/b) metres of cloth are needed to upholster my sofa.

    I would say "is". Quantities are singular.
    10 dollars is too much to pay for one cup of coffee.
    10 yards of cloth is needed.
    10 gallons is all I need to fill my tank.


    11) Two a) soaps / b) bars of soap will be provided. (Is it possible to put 'soap' in the plural?)

    "Two bars of soap ...." ("Two cakes of soap ..." is also possible)

    Soap is like fruit, bread, milk &c. If you make it plural it means "different kinds of"
    "There are three soaps in my bathroom: lavender, rose and musk."
    "You have a choice of three milks: cow's milk, goat's milk or ewe's milk."


     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    Thank you very much, Brioche, for your comments. I really appreciate that. :)

    See you soon,
    Hela
     
    Brioche said:
    9) Some a) cubes/b) lumps/ c) spoonfuls of sugar should be mixed with the flour.

    Grammatically, all three are correct.
    But logically only spoonfuls of sugar can be mixed with flour.


    10) Ten a) yards/b) metres of cloth are needed to upholster my sofa.

    I would say "is". Quantities are singular.
    10 dollars is too much to pay for one cup of coffee.
    10 yards of cloth is needed.
    10 gallons is all I need to fill my tank.


    11) Two a) soaps / b) bars of soap will be provided. (Is it possible to put 'soap' in the plural?)

    "Two bars of soap ...." ("Two cakes of soap ..." is also possible)

    Soap is like fruit, bread, milk &c. If you make it plural it means "different kinds of"
    "There are three soaps in my bathroom: lavender, rose and musk."
    "You have a choice of three milks: cow's milk, goat's milk or ewe's milk."



    Just a small point -

    10) 10 yards of cloth are needed (yards is a plural noun). I agree with the other 'quantities' nouns but to my ear '10 yards of cloth is needed' sounds awkward.

    Just call me 'cloth ears'! :D

    La Reine V ;)
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    la reine victoria said:
    Just a small point -

    10) 10 yards of cloth are needed (yards is a plural noun). I agree with the other 'quantities' nouns but to my ear '10 yards of cloth is needed' sounds awkward.

    Just call me 'cloth ears'! :D

    La Reine V ;)

    We'll just have to agree to disagree.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hela said:
    Dear teachers,

    Would you please tell me if the following sentences are correct? Please check the underlined elements and tell me if something else should be written instead.

    1) a) We could hear roars / bursts of laughter coming from the corridor. You could simply say "...hear laughter coming from ..."

    2) Different jams were exposed on the market stalls. OK

    3) Several toothpastes were distributed to the children. Strange, but OK.

    4) Glass debris was scattered all over the floor.

    5) Millions of sheep were killed on the day of the b) Aïd El Kebir (spelling? = Muslim feast).

    6) These a) types / b) patterns of behaviour are unacceptable in such an institution. Either should be OK

    7) I bought a lot of fruit in the market on Sunday.
    (Do we say “a piece of fruit”? When is ‘fruit’ countable and when is it not?)

    8) Two kits / pieces of furniture will be delivered.

    Thank you in advance.
    All the best,
    Hela

    The question about fruit is interesting. I might come back from the market and tell you that there were three new fruits at O'Leary's.
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    Thank you all for your help. But now I'm faced with a dilemma: what shall I say "Ten metres of cloth are (or) is what I need to..."? Are they both acceptable depending on what you're using as a subject "metres" or "cloth"?

    See you soon (I hope),
    Hela :)
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Hela said:
    Thank you all for your help. But now I'm faced with a dilemma: what shall I say "Ten metres of cloth are (or) is what I need to..."? Are they both acceptable depending on what you're using as a subject "metres" or "cloth"?

    See you soon (I hope),
    Hela :)

    For me it should be is.

    A measured quantity is singular.
    The "10 metres of cloth" is one thing, one "lump" of cloth, so it is singular, just as "10 litres of milk" is one thing.

    Note that when someone says "10 quarts of milk" it can also mean 10 cartons of milk, each holding 1 quart. So some one could say "I've bought 10 quarts of milk. They are on the table in the kitchen.
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    Dear teachers,

    Would you please correct my exercise? Would you have more exercises like these to give me?

    1. Mathematics has never been my favourite subject.

    2. The news printed in that paper is never accurate.

    3. A second series of books on American literature is being planned by the publisher.

    4. Two gallons of paint is all we need.

    5. Ten minutes is too short a time to finish this test.

    6. The goods are shipped yesterday.

    7. The scissors were here a few minutes ago.

    8. The proceeds of the sale are going to charity.

    9. Athletics has always been emphasized in this school.

    10. The premises of the school have been cleared of students because of a bomb threat.

    Thank you for your help,
    Hela
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Super!!
    A tiny comment. At (6) it should be "were".

    I could be persuaded that (9) should be "have" - but only after staring at it for a long time.
     

    r2d3

    New Member
    English - UK
    panjandrum said:
    I could be persuaded that (9) should be "have" - but only after staring at it for a long time.

    I thought the same when i first saw it - but swap "Athletics" for "Mathematics" and it does seem as if "has" fits.
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    I agree with you r2d3, if it works for "mathematics" why shouldn't it work for "athletics"?

    And what about the following, please?

    a) after the party bits of (?) leftover food lay scattered on the floor.

    b) His clothes were covered with blades of grass and bits of (?) straw.

    Thanks a lot,
    Hela
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't think we can apply the precedent of mathematics to athletics just because they both end in ...tics. Which doesn't help a lot:)

    (a), is fine as it is, or else leave out bits of.

    (b) is fine too. I would still like it with neither blades of nor bits of, or without blades of - but strangely, not without bits of:D
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    "Mathematics" is a field of study; "athletics" is not.

    Consider:

    Ethics is a fascinating field of study.
    His ethics are not in line with mine.

    Politics is not my cup of tea.
    His politics are questionable.

    ---

    Panj, your observation under (b) is not so strange. "With blades of grass and straw" sounds awkward because it sounds as if "blades" refers to "straw" as well. It's a question of word order: just switch the two nouns and it'll sound ok: "with straw and blades of grass."

    ---

    I agree that I would use the singular for quantities:

    Ten yards of cloth is required to make that sweater.
    Ten yards of cloth were distributed among the three women. (not a single entity anymore)
     

    bartonig

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hela,

    Keep in mind that some of these sentences are unlikely to be used in conversation. For example "two gallons of paint is all we need" and "ten yards of cloth is all I need".
    Think of the scenario in which you have been asked a question - "how much paint do you need?" Your reply is "I only need two gallons." The questioner might ask "is that (meaning the quantity) enough?" You might reply "yes. How much is it (meaning the price)?" The situations in which you say "two gallons of paint is / are ..." or "ten yards of cloth is / are ..." are rare.
     

    r2d3

    New Member
    English - UK
    panjandrum said:
    I don't think we can apply the precedent of mathematics to athletics just because they both end in ...tics. Which doesn't help a lot:)

    I equated mathematics and athletics because the context in which both are being used is as school subjects (rather than athletics as a group of sports/games), both appeared as examples (rather than introducing others) and both are treated as singular.
     

    Nadine Beck

    Senior Member
    español e inglés, Puerto Rico y la EE.UU.
    I would definitely use "are" for the yards of cloth:
    "Ten yards of cloth are required to make that sweater."

    You need a plural verb because the subject, "yards" is plural. "of cloth" is a modifying clause. If the subject phrase were instead "A lot of cloth" then you would want the singular verb:

    "A lot of cloth is required to make that sweater."

    The sentence:
    "Ten yards of cloth were distributed among the three women."
    needs the plural verb for the same reason -- yards, the subject, is plural.

    Take care!!
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Nadine Beck said:
    I would definitely use "are" for the yards of cloth:
    "Ten yards of cloth are required to make that sweater."

    You need a plural verb because the subject, "yards" is plural. "of cloth" is a modifying clause. If the subject phrase were instead "A lot of cloth" then you would want the singular verb:

    "A lot of cloth is required to make that sweater."

    The sentence:
    "Ten yards of cloth were distributed among the three women."
    needs the plural verb for the same reason -- yards, the subject, is plural.

    Take care!!

    Your logic is sound, but English often uses the singular with quantities when they are regarded as one entity. Going along with cloth and sweaters,

    Three months is a long time to wait to get the sweater, but fifty dollars is a reasonable amount to pay for it.

    These are both examples of acceptable, idiomatic English. Whether there's an American-British difference here, I don't know.
     

    Nadine Beck

    Senior Member
    español e inglés, Puerto Rico y la EE.UU.
    Oooh, you're right, and I don't know what rule the singular verb with qualnities follows, either, because I don't think it's uncountable anymore, in any of the three cases: months, yards or dollars.

    I don't think it's an American-British difference, either -- I'm sure I've never heard a Brit say "three months are a long time" or "fifty dollars are a reasonable amount" either.
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    Hela,

    Keep in mind that some of these sentences are unlikely to be used in conversation. For example "two gallons of paint is all we need" and "ten yards of cloth is all I need".
    Think of the scenario in which you have been asked a question - "how much paint do you need?" Your reply is "I only need two gallons." The questioner might ask "is that (meaning the quantity) enough?" You might reply "yes. How much is it (meaning the price)?" The situations in which you say "two gallons of paint is / are ..." or "ten yards of cloth is / are ..." are rare.

    Sentences used in my home for 'gallons of paint' and 'yards of cloth/fabric"

    We need to get ten gallons of paint for the ceiling.

    I need to get ten yards of cloth to make these dresses.

    Orange Blossom
     

    Nadine Beck

    Senior Member
    español e inglés, Puerto Rico y la EE.UU.
    Hela,
    ... some of these sentences are unlikely to be used in conversation. For example "two gallons of paint is all we need" and "ten yards of cloth is all I need".
    ... The situations in which you say "two gallons of paint is / are ..." or "ten yards of cloth is / are ..." are rare.

    THIS, I think, is a difference between American & British English. I'd say those sentences, & I'm sure I do, all the time, as well as these:
    "Five dollars is all I'll need," and "Two children is all I'm planning to have."


    I can't tell you WHY they are correct, and commonly said, but i'm a native English speaker & grew up with an English professor who I'm sure would back me up here. (She'd know why, too.)

    Aren't these collective plurals, though? Are uncountables a subset of those/ (Sorry, probably you don't need more questions.)

    :)
     
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