Re: mass/count nouns

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Thu Sep 11 1997 - 14:01:28 EDT

Has anyone run into the use of "Mass" and "Count" nouns in any Greek
grammar ??

The normal terminology has been Collective (Singulars and Plurals) and (I
suppose) non-collective.

This whole discussion, and how it effects the use of the article in Greek,
especially with respect to the dividing lines between indefinite, generic, and
qualitative, has been quite interesting.

Just for fun, you might want to look at the use of GUNH in 1Cor 7...

Also, concerning the question raised by Larry Kruper:

>Therefore the example David gives above "beauty" can be expressed as
>'she is *a* beauty' or 'she has *much* beauty' even though an adjective
>like "beautiful" exists in English.
>However, I don't think the same can be said for "god" in English. We
>can say that one is "a god", or "the God", but not that one is "much god".
>To get that sense in English we must say that one is godlike or that
>they are divine. However we can say that there are *many* gods because
>god is a count noun in English.
>The question naturally comes to mind, then, in the Koine Greek,
>would it be grammatically correct to use the Greek equivalent of
>"much" with QEOS, and would this be a test as to whether it could be
>used purely as a non-count noun ?

I'm not sure that you *must* be able to add something like "much" to
prove that a noun to prove that it can be used qualitatively, its
just one way to see if its possible. Even in English we can say:
"Michael Jordan is god!" and use god qualitatively, ie., he possesses
certain attributes which we deem "godlike".

I'd love to chase this, but... let me make one other observation that
may effect these determinations; it seems to me that the differentiation
between "Abstract" and "Concrete" nouns comes into play somewhere here
along with "Mass" and "Count" as we try to determine how a noun is
to be understood with or without the article in Greek, viz., "beauty"
versus "god".


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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