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Some nouns undergo the shift from uncountable to countable when the meaning of the noun shifts from general to particular. These nouns include nouns referring to institutions, meals, means of transportation or communication.


General Particular

He goes to school. They built a school.

She was in bed. She bought the beds at Ikea.

Society makes demands on us. They want to build a better society.

Life is hard. Lives were lost in the war.

He had a hard life.

The life of their child was a happy one.

Lunch is my favourite meal I had a large lunch.

Dinner is served at 6. He planned a dinner for the volunteers.

We went to Edmonton by train. We took a train to Edmonton.

I go to work by bus. I was on the bus when I saw him.

You canít smoke in class. In the class there were several smokers.

You can contact me by phone I was talking on the phone.

Knowledge is important. A knowledge of English is required for this job.


N.B. With musical instruments, we often use the+singular when we talk about them in general.


General Specific

He plays the piano. I would love to own a piano.

The oboe is a lovely instrument. There were three oboes for sale.


Using the partitive


  • Partitives denote a subset or a particular area of something.
  • They can be used with countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
  • They are usually formed with the structure a/the _______ of noun.

Partitive with countable nouns

a book of matches

a group of delegates

many of the participants


Partitive with mass nouns

a slice of bread

a pad of paper

a bottle of beer


Partitive with special nouns

a piece of furniture

a word of advice


Partitive with abstract nouns

a feeling of peace

an expression of happiness

a knowledge of English

a sense of relief


With abstract nouns the indefinite article can sometimes be used to denote the partitive idea of Ďa kind of_________í. Adjectival modification is normally used with this meaning of an abstract noun.


He felt a happiness that he had never felt before.

In her eyes he saw a sadness that seemed to transform her entire being.

A love like this can only come along once.





1. _______talk is cheap.

2. Sunflowers by Van Gogh is __________ work of art I really admire.

3. This table is made of ____________wood.

4. We are expecting ___________ company tonight.

5. Studying abroad is ____________________rewarding experience.

6. __________ life in a foreign country can be difficult.

7. He organized _________ supper to thank the volunteers.

8. He gave _____________ talk on Japanese art.

9. To get this job you need not only ____________ skill but also _________ experience.

10. Teak is ____________________hard wood.

11. ________ life is too high a payment for that.

12. ________ sadness that he could hardly bear filled his heart.

13. He used to run ____________ company.

14. ___________ part of the problem is that he is too busy.

15. Your essay lacks __________substance.

16. This washing machine is missing _________ important part.

17. _________ bacon and _________ cake are fattening.

18. For supper she cooked _________ bacon and baked ________ cake.



Date: 2014-12-22; view: 1236

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