More papers and paper

For all you ‘visual learners’ out there, here’s a video version of a previous post in which we looked at the difference between the countable and uncountable forms of the word ‘paper’.

After watching the video you might want to have a go at the gapfill activity accompanying the last post dealing with ‘paper’!

Crime or crimes?

Several posts on GuruEAP deal with nouns that can be either countable or uncountable but with slightly different meanings. Here’s a text packed with examples of one such word – Crime. Select either ‘crime’ or ‘crimes’ from the dropdown menus and then check the answer key for analysis and explanations!

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College or Colleges

Taking a gap year gives certain advantages to young people before attending colleges.

Yet another of those dreaded words that have slightly different meanings in their countable and uncountable forms.

1. College, countable

If you attend colleges, then..

  • you attend more than one college in more than one location, either sequentially or at the same time.
  • possibly you keep changing your mind about what you want to study?
  • possibly you are never satisfied with the college you happen to be attending?
  • possibly you are super human!

2. College, uncountable

If you attend college, then..

  • you are enrolled on a course of study.
  • your course lasts for a fixed period of time.
  • you probably study on the same campus every day.
  • when you finish your course, you hope to receive some kind of qualification.

Perhaps it’s best to think of attend college, or go to college as phrasal verbs that carry all of these meanings. All of the above also applies to the word ‘university’.

Little equipment

You only need little equipment to play badminton.

This has two literal meanings, both of which seem odd:

  1. You only need small equipment to play badminton.
  2. You need not enough equipment to play badminton.

Clearly the writer did not intend either of these meanings. First of all there is obviously a standard size for badminton equipment, which is neither small nor large. Secondly, it would be impossible to play badminton without ‘enough’ equipment!

Little and a little have quite different meanings. Compare:

Gosh I’m thirsty after that game! Do you have any water left?
Yes, I still have a little. Here you are.
[a little = not much, but enough]
I wish we could play badminton more often!
Yes, but because of my job I have little time.
[little = not enough]

In the opening example, the writer is – I think – trying to say that playing badminton does not involve a lot of equipment:

  • You don’t need much equipment to play badminton.

In this case, not much means enough, and that’s good because it means that badminton is inexpensive compared to, say, photography, which generally involves a lot of expensive equipment and therefore a lot of spending!

Industrial theatre production(s)

Automation in industry means increased productivity and better productions.

Yet another word that has quite different meanings in its countable and uncountable forms!

In its countable form, production has strong associations with music and theatre:

  • Medieval theatre productions are still performed today.
  • 300 performances were given of 33 different opera productions.
  • The earliest sound effects were strictly studio productions.
  • Previous acclaimed productions include “Oklahoma!”
  • The building was used for massive concerts and theatrical productions.

It’s only when it’s in its uncountable form that production means manufacturing:

  • The highest production recorded was fifty thousand annually.
  • The company has 15 production plants worldwide.
  • By 1900 daily production was 2 thousand tons.
  • Even small scale “capitalist” production was suppressed.
  • The pellets production required increased freshwater access.

And so returning to our opening example, we need:

  • Automation in industry means increased productivity and better production.

Two competitions

There is an increasing competition which results in several negative effects.

Compare the following meanings.

  1. He won first prize in the competition.
    (competition, countable = an organised event in which people compete with each other – in front of an audience – to win a prize or a medal) [Indonesian flag kompetisi / lomba / pertandingan]
  2. There is fierce competition among rival tech companies.
    (competition, uncountable = a situation in which a person or an organisation is trying to be more successful – often financially – than another person or organisation) [Indonesian flag saingan]

Apple Samsung

Apple – Samsung

In the opening example our writer is using meaning (1), but I think he should be using meaning (2). First of all it’s difficult to imagine a competition, like the Olympic Games, ‘increasing’. What does that mean? Does it mean more countries are taking part? Or more people are taking part? Or more events are included now? And anyway, who would consider any of these increases to be ‘negative’?

I think the writer means this:

  • There is increasing competition which results in several negative effects.

‘Industry’ and ‘Industries’

Urbanisation supports economic development. Firstly, it is a supporting factor to increase industries.

OK so industry is one of those annoying words that can be countable and can be uncountable, depending on the context. If you’re being general then you need the uncountable form. Continue reading