Re: count noun

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Wed Feb 25 1998 - 02:31:13 EST

At 6:55 AM -0600 2/24/98, Ronald Ross wrote:
>Count nouns refer to things perceived as units with well defined
>borders. They can be pluralized (balls, trees) directly enumerated
>(three balls, fourteen trees), accept the indefinite article "a" (if the
>language has one: a ball, a tree). About such things one asks: "How
>many . . .?". They are opposed to mass nouns, which refer to things
>perceived as "stuff" or substance (rice, spaghetti, flour), which cannot
>under normal circumstances be pluralized (*rices, *spaghettis, *flours)
>or enumerated (*three rices, *fourteen spaghettis), and in English take
>the indefinite article "some" (some rice, some spaghetti). About such
>things one asks "How much . . .?" Mass nouns can behave grammatically
>like count nouns if used with a "unitizer" (grain of rice, strands of
>spaghetti, cups of flour).

I had already written a response to the question about count nouns when I
discovered this concise, yet accurate response by Ronal Ross. He has done a
great job of summarizing the relavant linguistic distinctions.

I would add only that no thorough study of this subject has been done for
biblical Greek. Any takers for a dissertation?

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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