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Hi everybody,

In “do you have difficulty getting up”, “difficulty” means when something is not easy TO DO or UNDERSTAND. It’s an uncount noun.

In “children with these difficulties may also substitute sounds in words”, “difficulty” means “problem”. It’s a count noun.

In “Children who have difficulties with oral language have difficulty remembering information and organizing information (comprehension)”, “have difficulties with oral language” means “have problems with oral language ”, and “have difficulty remembering” means “not easy to remenber.”

According to what I wrote earlier, the following sentence is not grammatically correct “Children can also have difficulty with social language skills or pragmatics”. It should rather be Children can also have A difficulty with social language skills or pragmatics”. Because here “difficulty” means “problem” (a count noun), and not "TO DO or UNDERSTAND. It’s an uncount noun." But I have never seen "I have a difficulty...".

Thank you for your coming explanations.
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Comments  
I don't think it's so much a question of grammatical versus ungrammatical as it's simply not idiomatic. Why we should have a plural form but avoid using it with the indefinite article in some situations puzzles me.

But, a difficulty I see in suggesting it doesn't exist at all, is that I've just used it. Another difficulty I see is that when it's googled, we get "570,000 English pages for 'a difficulty' ", which is not, an insignificant number.

Let's just say that I'm flummoxed for the moment. Over to y'all, moderators.
Please, let me know about any mistakes in what I wrote, English reasoning mistakes or English written mistakes.

Thank you
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It was all pretty damn good to my mind, spoonfedbaby.

As far as I know, 'an uncount noun' is normally spoken of as 'an uncountABLE noun' OR a 'noncount noun' but I could be mistaken.
Beats me too, JT and SfB.

MrP
Thank just the truth and MrPedantic Emotion: smile
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Hello again SfB

As you've commented, there are two senses of 'difficulty':

1. state of difficult-ness (mostly singular)
2. obstacle, hindrance, impediment (mostly plural)

Some phrases seem to belong to #1:

a) 'with difficulty'
b) 'have' (adjective) 'difficulty' (in) + gerund (e.g. 'have great difficulty in walking')
c) 'the difficulty is in' + gerund (e.g. 'the difficulty is in choosing...')

Others, to #2:

d) 'to create difficulties'
e) 'to be in difficulties'
f) 'to have difficulties with'

While others are either #1 or #2:

g) 'to get into difficulty/difficulties'

Since #1 is a state, it's non-countable; whereas #2, as a 'thing', looks countable.

But it's a strange kind of countability. First, we have the problem you've identified – that 'a difficulty' sounds possible, but slightly odd.

Then we have the problem that 'counting' the difficulties also sounds a little odd – e.g. 'I foresee six difficulties'.

I notice that 'difficulties' in the sense #2 idioms often has a sense of 'interlinked difficulties'.

So perhaps this subterranean sense of interlinkedness in the common plural idioms is what makes us uncomfortable with the singular use.

'I have a problem...' is fine. But 'I have a difficulty...', though possible, perhaps leaves us with a slight sense of omission: 'shouldn't there be more'?

Only a hypothesis; but the best I can do for now!

MrP
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Very helpful

I found on the Internet “I have a difficulty of eating a lot.” When I saw this sentence, everything came clear to me about the usage of "difficulty" in its both forms, countable and uncountable. “I have A difficulty OF eating a lot (countable)” but “I have difficulty eating a lot (uncountable).”

(f)
Where is the flower (f) instead of ( f ) in my previous message? The answer is not important. But replace that letter by a tulip please. Emotion: embarrassed
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