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I am confused of using article before (adj+noun). Here are some example sentences:


1. She seems to have a congenital inability to make decision. [here the article "a" is used before (adj=congenital and inability =uncountable noun)]

2. As a teacher he tries to give individual attention to his pupils. [here no article is used before ( adj=individual and attention= uncountable noun)]

3. In the United States, the National Guard is a military force within an individual state, which can become part of the national army if there is a war or emergency. [here article "an" is used before (adj=individual and countable= state)]


▪ Why wasn't any article used in second sentence, despite having the same structure as the first one?

▪ As we know that "individual" is an adjective then why is the article "an" used before "individual state"?

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Hasibrahman1. She seems to have a congenital inability to make a decision. [here the article "a" is used before (adj=congenital and inability =uncountable noun)]

a congenital inability - In this case it is a particular kind of disability; one she was born with.
Inability is countable in this usage, the same as disability.

The article "a" is required before decision.

We do not use the indefinite article before uncountable nouns.

Hasibrahman2. As a teacher he tries to give individual attention to his pupils. [here no article is used before ( adj=individual and attention= uncountable noun)]

Attention is uncountable. "Individual attention" is special attention that is designed to meet the needs of a person.

He gets a lot of (individual) attention from the teacher. The teacher spends several hours each evening making special exercises for him


The teacher ignores Omar. He gets no attention at all from her.

Hasibrahman3. In the United States, the National Guard is a military force within an individual state, which can become part of the national army if there is a war or emergency. [here article "an" is used before (adj=individual and countable= state)]

There are 50 states in the United States. Each state is unique in having its own constitution, legal system, education system and military force.

individual = one.

An individual state = one state, considered by itself.

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Hasibrahman▪ Why wasn't any article used in second sentence, despite having the same structure as the first one?

The structure is actually a little different.

1) a congenital [inability to make a decision]
2) [to give] individual attention [to his pupils]

'to make a decision' is an infinitive construction that goes with 'inability'. It refers to one specific kind of inability — the inability to make a decision, not any other inabilities. That makes 'inability' seem like just one of many kinds of inabilities, so it makes 'inability' countable.

But 'to his pupils' is a prepositional phrase that goes with 'to give'. No specific kind of attention is mentioned. 'individual' means that each pupil was given attention separately. So it says how the attention was distributed among the pupils, but not what kind of attention was given. That makes 'attention' seem more like something uncountable more than like something countable.

Hasibrahman▪ As we know that "individual" is an adjective then why is the article "an" used before "individual state"?

3) a military force within an individual state

'state' is countable. The reference is to each of the 50 states of the United States. No matter how many adjectives are used with a singular countable noun, it must have a determiner (a, an, the, this, that, my, your, etc.).

CJ

[ By the way, it's "confused about", not "confused of". ]

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