uncountable

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English[edit]

Usage note[edit]

With respect to uncountable nouns, if the word is used in a plural form it would only be a legal usage if it was being used to represent a short-form reference to containers of the thing and not to the thing itself. For example, one cannot correctly say "I have five electricities," because electricity is uncountable, it cannot be stored, and still be electricity. (If it is stored, it is no longer electricity and is in a battery, a capacitor, etc.) Under normal circumstances the only correct form of making an uncountable noun plural would be as an implicit or indirect reference to containers of the thing. This means a statement such as, "go drink your milk," (in the non-plural form) would be the only correct form because milk is an uncountable noun. However, if someone said, "go drink your milks," this would only be correct usage if it was being used as a short form or unsaid form of "go drink your glasses of milk," "...cartons of milk," "...bottles of milk," etc., because the word milk is uncountable and is normally not made plural.

Also, some uncountable nouns can be stored, but we still cannot correctly use a plural form to imply a reference to its container. One cannot say we have "lots of evidences" to imply multiple pieces of evidence stored in file cabinets or evidence lockers.

Therefore, one should not pluralize an uncountable noun unless you are certain it is permissible to use the otherwise incorrect plural form as shorthand for its container.

Adjective[edit]

uncountable (not comparable)

  1. So many as to be incapable of being counted.
    The reasons for our failure were as uncountable as the grains of sand on a beach.
  2. (mathematics) Incapable of being put into one-to-one correspondence with the natural numbers or any subset thereof.
    Cantor’s “diagonal proof” shows that the set of real numbers is uncountable.
  3. (grammar, of a noun) Describes a meaning of a noun that cannot be used freely with numbers or the indefinite article, and which therefore takes no plural form. Example: information.
    Many languages do not distinguish countable nouns from uncountable nouns.
    One meaning in law of the supposedly uncountable noun "information" is used in the plural and is countable.

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Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Noun[edit]

uncountable (plural uncountables)

  1. (linguistics) An uncountable noun.

See also[edit]