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ERIC Number: ED516141
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Dec-20
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 9
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Understanding English Non-Count Nouns and Indefinite Articles
Tsuchida, Takehiro
Online Submission
The fact that English non-count abstract nouns such as knowledge are compatible with the indefinite article a/an is not only perplexing for second language (L2) learners of English but also troublesome for both native and non-native English teachers. This paper does research on this curious phenomenon of English grammar to clarify its mechanism and avoid misunderstanding due to oversimplification, taking advantage of theoretical studies and corpus studies. Data from review of literature by various linguists and from corpus research into the frequency and semantics of actual instances by using British National Corpus (BNC) suggest that the indefinite article a/an has the function of delimitation and can separate one distinct entity from a vague expanse of meaning. The paper concludes that this feature of indefinite articles allows non-count nouns to shift towards less typical usage of the words, giving English expressions more subtlety that nicely accommodates basic human cognition, although these nouns could still be considered uncountable rather than countable. (Contains 4 tables.)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A