Wool is a material/Mesh is material

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Wool is a material made from animal's wool that is used to make things such as clothes, blankets, and carpets

Mesh is material like a net made from wire, thread, or plastic.

(Collins Cobuild)

Why does the first material take the article while the other doesn't?
Thank you.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    This answer won't be especially enlightening, Vik, but these two sentences illustrate the principle that it is often possible to express the same idea with no article or with an indefinite article. Both sentences seem entirely normal if you use "a" before "material". Both sentences seem entirely normal if you omit the "a".

    "A material" reminds me that this is one of several or many different materials. Used alone, "material" doesn't imply that there are other materials.
     
    Last edited:

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    In my view, "a material" is used in the first example because wool is a specific material.

    In the second example several materials are mentioned. Mesh is not single material. Mesh is made from any of several different materials.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    In my view, "a material" is used in the first example because wool is a specific material.

    In the second example several materials are mentioned. Mesh is not single material. Mesh is made from any of several different materials.
    But mesh is not made of wire, thread, and plastic at a time. It is made either of wire, or thread, or plastic. In all the cases it's made of one particular material, as well as wool is. Or doesn't it matter?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    But mesh is not made of wire, thread, and plastic at a time. It is made either of wire, or thread, or plastic. In all the cases it's made of one particular material, as well as wool is. Or doesn't it matter?
    Linkway is correct. Wool is a homogeneous material usually understood as uniquely available from the subfamily Caprinae; mesh may be made of any material - it is visually descriptive rather than definitive -> you know what it looks like rather than what material it is made of.


    (I hope you are collecting all these questions to send to the editor of the so-called 'dictionary'!)
     
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