Effort or efforts?

Public-private collaboration in policy making requires a lot of efforts.

Indonesian flag For Indonesians, effort is a word that often requires effort! This post will help you with your translations of upaya and usaha!

Effort countable, plural

In its plural form, efforts is a kind of synonym for ‘activities designed to tackle a particular problem’:

  • Their tireless efforts are finally paying off. (strong collocation with ‘tireless’)
  • These efforts to protect children must continue.
  • The system includes strengthening efforts to prevent homelessness.

Notice that plural countable efforts are often attributed to a person or a group and that the word efforts is often preceded by a possessive and often followed by to + V1:

  • In our efforts to safeguard the environment we have largely failed.
  • We must praise the government’s efforts to guarantee jobs for women.
  • Their efforts to eradicate small pox eventually earned them the recognition they deserved.

If we use this knowledge to re-write our opening sentence, we might get:

  • A positive working relationship between the public and private sectors depends on their efforts to collaborate in policy making.

Effort countable, singular

When effort (countable) is singular, it is very often part of a phrase involving certain collocations:

in an effort to + V1

  • In an effort to save the environment, people are choosing not to use plastic bags.

make an effort to + V1

  • If you care about the environment, please make an effort to avoid plastic.

make every effort to + V1

  • The government is making every effort to discourage the public from using plastic shopping bags.

joint effort

  • A joint effort involving the public and private sectors has led to a reduction in the use of plastic bags.

Effort uncountable

When effort is uncountable, certain collocations work well:

  • To become fluent in a foreign language requires effort.
  • To become fluent in a foreign language demands effort.

In fact, our opening sentence works best with the uncountable effort:

  • Public-private collaboration in policy making requires a lot of effort.

Final word

As with any noun that has both countable and uncountable forms, a useful general rule to follow would be to use the uncountable form when you’re speaking generally, and the countable form when you want to be specific.

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