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I was told that a or an should not be used to mark noncount nouns, sush as water, gold, etc.. That is simple until I encounter abstract nouns! For instance, give me an advice is incorrect since advice is an abstract noun. However, an online search shows that both give me advice and give me an advice are used by many people. Moreover, opinion is also an abstract noun; but many people would prefer give me an opinion over give me opinion. A satisfaction is another abstract noun that seems to violate the rule, but is often used (again, the count from online search data shows that). So does the rule have many exceptions? If so, how would an ESL learner like me be able to make the distinction? Please help. Thanks and Best Regards - Hoa Thai
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Hoa ThaiI was told that a or an should not be used to mark noncount nouns, sush as water, gold, etc.. That is simple until I encounter abstract nouns! For instance, give me an advice is incorrect since advice is an abstract noun. However, an online search shows that both give me advice and give me an advice are used by many people. Moreover, opinion is also an abstract noun; but many people would prefer give me an opinion over give me opinion. A satisfaction is another abstract noun that seems to violate the rule, but is often used (again, the count from online search data shows that). So does the rule have many exceptions? If so, how would an ESL learner like me be able to make the distinction? Please help. Thanks and Best Regards - Hoa Thai
give me an advice is incorrect. (advice is an uncountable noun)

give me an opinion is correct. (opinion is a countable noun.)

A satisfaction is incorrect. (satisfaction is an uncountable noun)
First, thank you for your reply. Now if you can help me a bit further, I would appreciate very much.

If advice is an uncountable abstract noun, then advices must be wrong, right? (Yesterday, my father gave me his advice. Today, my mother gives me hers. I don't like the two advices at all!)

Now, how could opinion be countable? I certainly cannot physically sense it...opinion and advice are not synonymous but they are both thought related, I think. So why are they different?

Regarding satisfaction, here is an online sentence that goes with a:
"Even in those jurisdictions, however, a gift may still be treated as a satisfaction of legacy if such an intention is expressed in a written document made ..."
So the sentence is grammatically incorrect, right? But, doesn't treated as satisfaction of legacy sound unpleasant to you?

Shouldn't there be a source, from which we, ESL learners, can learn abstract nouns' nuances?

Thanks
Hoa Thai
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Hoa ThaiFirst, thank you for your reply. Now if you can help me a bit further, I would appreciate very much.

If advice is an uncountable abstract noun, then advices must be wrong, right? (Yesterday, my father gave me his advice. Today, my mother gives me hers. I don't like their two advice at all! 'Advice' is uncountable, so 'two advices' is wrong.)

Now, how could opinion be countable? I certainly cannot physically sense it...opinion and advice are not synonymous but they are both thought related, I think. So why are they different? [ opinion (singular), opinions (plural) Your opinion is what you think about someone or something based on your personal judgement. Advice (uncountable) You give someone advice when you suggest what they should do in a certain situation.

I hope the definitions I've extracted from the dictionary will enable you to see the difference between 'advice' and 'opinion'.]


Regarding satisfaction, here is an online sentence that goes with a:
"Even in those jurisdictions, however, a gift may still be treated as a satisfaction of legacy if such an intention is expressed in a written document made ..."
So the sentence is grammatically incorrect, right? But, doesn't treated as satisfaction of legacy sound unpleasant to you? ( I missed out the fact that 'satisfaction' can be a countable noun. So 'satisfaction' can be countable or uncountable depending on context.) Her success gave her parents a lot of satisfaction. (uncountable noun). A satisfaction is something that gives a feeling of pleasure or contentment ... the immense satisfactions (countable noun) of parenthood.

Shouldn't there be a source, from which we, ESL learners, can learn abstract nouns' nuances?

Thanks
Hoa Thai

Hello Hoa Thai, and welcome to the forums.

You seem to think that any noun that is abstract is also a non-count noun, and that seems to be causing you some trouble.

Opinion is a good example - it's countable. One opinion, two opinions. Advice, however, is not countable. You get "advice" not "an advice."

As YL said, examples that refer to "advices" are nonstandard.
Shouldn't there be a source, from which we, ESL learners, can learn abstract nouns' nuances?
Thanks
Hoa Thai

Google for 'abstract nouns' and you should be able to find whatever you want to know about abstract nouns.
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Thank you all for your answers. With your advice and after hours of studying various sentences from Google search, I come to the following conclusions:

1. Many people, including English speaking natives, do use nonstandard English to express their thoughts.
2. As English language keeps evolving, nonstardard usages from a large community may become acceptable. So correct context is better than correct grammar; after all, language is a means to covey our thoughts. What good is it if a sentence is grammartically correct but it does not deliver one's message!?
3. Noncount (uncountable) nouns, including abstract ones, can become countable, depending on their context. Here are a couple of examples:
- "My sister loves lemonade; she offers me a lemonade" shows the difference between a type of drink and a drink.
- Water takes a plural form, waters, to signify the water drawn from different sources. The same idea is apllied for satisfaction as pointed by Yoong Liat. So advice can actually take a plural form as many people believe it should be treated to separate thoughts from different sources (Google search shows almost 6,000,000 entries that use advices).

Yoong Liat - Do you think I am still confused?

Again, special thanks.
Hoa Thai
Hi Hoa Thai,

So advice can actually take a plural form as many people believe it should be treated to separate thoughts from different sources (Google search shows almost 6,000,000 entries that use advices).

Generally speaking, I think your last post is reasonable, except with regard to 'advices'. I don't have time to look at 6 millions hits, but I looked at about 20 and they are all simply wrong. Emotion: smile

If you say things like 'Please give me some advices / an advice', a great many people will simply think your English is poor.

( You can find the word 'advice' in the plural, where it means 'formal notification of a completed transaction', eg a bank deposit advice is a written notification of a completed bank deposit. However, I don't think this is the kind of meaning that you are thinking about. )

Best wishes, Clive
I wholeheartedly agree with Clive.

I googled "an advice" and got 1,250,000 hits. I only looked at a few of the results, but the ones I looked at fell into two categories:

1- The word advice had been correctly used as an adjective (e.g. an advice column)
2- The words "an advice" had been incorrectly used by a non-native speaker of English
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