Quality or qualities?

Posted by on October 3rd, 2018 | 0 comments | countable uncountable, IELTS, mutu, practice, speaking, vocabulary, writing

Javorcik seems to be unaware of the ability of domestic companies to engage in improving their qualities.

Another countable / uncountable problem, folks! Later we’ll take a look at some examples of each and think about differences in meaning. Before you read the examples try this practice activity!

Many large manufaturers employ a quality assurance (QA) inspector to monitor the quality of their goods before they are sold. After inspecting an item, the QA inspector decides whether the quality of an item meets required standards. The QA inspector also checks that a manufactured item has the correct physical qualities. For example, if a product is supposed to have a smooth finish but the finish is actually rough, then the inspector will probably decide that the quality of this item is unsatisfactory. Therefore, the qualities required to become a QA inspector include thoroughness, attention to detail, and knowledge of manufacturing processes.

Quality uncountable

This might refer to a high or low standard or standards. For example in the featured image for this post we could evaluate the quality of the bicycle (professional quality).

  • If you pay a lot of money for a product, you expect high quality.
  • High grade components ensure professional audio quality.
  • The high definition picture quality is stunning.

Quality countable

This is more about characteristic features. These may be personal, as in the qualities of the cyclist in our featured image (competitive, determined).

  • The relationship displays antagonistic yet loving qualities.
  • The team are demonstrating great leadership qualities.
  • He has such wonderful qualities deep down.

Characteristic features may also be material, as in the hat worn by our cyclist (comfortable, protective) and the bicycle itself (light, fast).

  • Every object around us has magnetic qualities.
  • A unique quality of the spider’s web is its strength.
  • They do not know how to distinguish with their senses the various qualities of different substances.


I think our writer was talking about the former meaning, in other words quality (uncountable) with reference to a standard that can be either high or low:

  • Javorcik seems to be unaware of the ability of domestic companies to engage in improving their quality.

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