The uncountable nouns in our lives

Fruits

On a chilly winter evening in New Delhi, I saw this sign blazing in the dark. ‘Fruit’ is an uncountable noun. And if the owner wished to be grammatically correct, the sign should have read “Shakti Fruit.’

But what are uncountable nouns? Uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted. They can be either abstract nouns (love, peace) or concrete nouns (sugar, furniture).

Here are the main points you need to keep in mind:

a. With an uncountable noun, we do not use an ‘s’. And so we cannot have ‘fruits’.

b. Also, we cannot use indefinite articles (a,an) with uncountable nouns. We should not say: a fruit.

Let’s look at some common errors made with uncountable nouns:

  1. “Can I ask for an advice?”

This is incorrect. Advice is uncountable. You can say: “Can I ask for some advice?”

2. The ten equipments are in the storeroom.

Equipment is uncountable. Instead, we can say: The ten pieces of equipment are in the storeroom.

3. She knows a lot about Japanese business etiquettes.

You guessed it… Etiquette is an uncountable noun. The sentence should read: She knows a lot about Japanese business etiquette.

And now, I’m sure that you can identify the grammatical error in this photo:

equipments

 

Can you spot the Indianism in this photo?

 

 

Departmental

Indianisms are words / phrases that are particular to India.

In this photo, departmental is an Indianism. In the US, the word would be replaced with department. We do use the word departmental, but in a different context. For example, Rani attends a departmental meeting. After the meeting, she buys accessories at a department store.

There are other words and expressions which qualify as Indianisms:

    1. No issues. This is fine when used among Indians. If you work in an international setting, you could say instead: ‘no worries’ or ‘no problem’.
    2. Concerned department. Concerned person. In the US, people say relevant department or relevant person. To my ears, this sounds better.
    3. Godown.  In the US and UK a godown becomes a warehouse.