• Yaniv Iczkovits

Mistake-free Mondays - Remember what counts

As most of you know, in English we use the word “a” when we talk about one of something (a NOUN). For example:

“I have a meeting today” - OR - “I need a new computer”

But we only use the “a” before a COUNTABLE noun. You can count “meetings”, and “computers”, so if you have one meeting or one computer, you should use the word “a”.

However, when you use an UNCOUNTABLE noun, you don’t need the “a”. The tricky part is that some nouns are used differently in Hebrew than they are in English. Let’s take a closer look…

Here are some sentences I’ve heard Israelis make, which are incorrect:

“We had a good weather.”

“I hope I get a good feedback.”

“I don’t have a time.”

“We must order new furnitures.”

“I got good advices.”

“Usually, I buy clothings outside of Israel.”

None of the nouns in those sentences are considered countable in English. Weather is a general concept – not a specific thing that can be counted. The same is true of the other nouns in these sentences, so none of them need the “a”.

In addition, none of them need an “s” at the end to make them plural. So, there’s no such thing as “advices” – there’s only advice. There’s no such thing as “feedbacks” – there’s only feedback. These nouns are uncountable. So, you got “a good piece of advice”, or you got “a lot of good feedback”.

There are also many foods and drinks that are considered uncountable. For example, “water” is an uncountable noun. You can’t count “one water, two waters, three waters…”.

So why do people sometimes say “I’ll take a water, please”? When they say that, they are just trying to say it in a shorter way, but what they really mean is “I’ll take a bottle of water, please”. Bottles of water are certainly countable.

Please be aware that this is a very informal way of speaking, and is not appropriate for the workplace.

Let’s look at a few more examples:

· “a slice of bread” – not “a bread” (The whole thing is: “a loaf of bread”)

· “a slice of pizza” – not “a pizza” (The whole thing is: “a pie”)

· “a plate of hummus” – not “a hummus

· “a bowl of soup” – not “a soup

· “a cup of coffee” – not “a coffee

So, when you have office visitors, please offer them “a cup of coffee” – not “a coffee”. Feel free to offer “a cup of tea” as well, of course.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I hope today’s post has been helpful. Let us know… 

And join us next week for more helpful tips on Mistake-free Mondays.

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