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Hi,

I am trying to get a grasp on the correct use of nouns, whether typed as variable, uncountable, or mass. Some usages seem permissable, whereas others are not.

a wrench is equipment. -- Now, a typical defnition of 'equipment' is one that consists of the things that are used in one's profession, so the use of this uncountable word with a pluralstic meaning makes it awkward at best for the previous example to be acceptable. So, a better sentence would be "a wernch is a piece of equipment". Is my argument plausible?

milk is a liquid -- I think CalifJim said it is preferred over 'milk is liquid', while both are acceptable.

Last night's crowd was 400 people. We had a large attendance/large attendance -- way above our expectations. -- I think both are acceptable depending on how you perceive the level of attendance -- physically or abstractly. Make sense?

John's shouting and climbing his uncle's back last night at a family gathering was bad behavior/a bad behavior. -- Here, I think 'behavior' is a variable noun, which I learned can be used countably if used as an example or instance of that. Eventhough both are acceptable to me, since the instance is clearly shown as the case of John shouting and climbing his uncle's back last night at a family gathering, it seem the use of 'a bad behavior' is better.

So whether categorized as variable, uncountable, and possibly mass, if the detail is clearly laid out in the writing, using a specific form of the forms will constitue a better form of writing.
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Hi,

I'm just going to comment on your specific examples.

I am trying to get a grasp on the correct use of nouns, whether typed as variable, uncountable, or mass. Some usages seem permissable, whereas others are not.

a wrench is equipment. -- Now, a typical defnition of 'equipment' is one that consists of the things that are used in one's profession, <<< Yes, although I'd prefer "used for a particular purpose" so the use of this uncountable word with a pluralstic meaning makes it awkward at best for the previous example to be acceptable. So, a better sentence would be "a wernch is a piece of equipment". Yes, but it sounds odd because we'd normally say 'A wrench is a tool'. Is my argument plausible?

milk is a liquid -- I think CalifJim said it is preferred over 'milk is liquid', while both are acceptable. Yes, 'a' is preferable. But in a more scientific context, you might say 'Milk is liquid'.

Last night's crowd was 400 people. We had a large attendance/large attendance -- way above our expectations. -- I think both are acceptable depending on how you perceive the level of attendance -- physically or abstractly. Make sense? 'We had large attendance' sounds very unnatural. You could say 'The attendance was great'.

John's shouting and climbing his uncle's back last night at a family gathering was bad behavior/a bad behavior. -- Here, I think 'behavior' is a variable noun, which I learned can be used countably if used as an example or instance of that. Eventhough both are acceptable to me, since the instance is clearly shown as the case of John shouting and climbing his uncle's back last night at a family gathering, it seem the use of 'a bad behavior' is better. It sounds wrong. Say 'bad behaviour'.

So whether categorized as variable, uncountable, and possibly mass, if the detail is clearly laid out in the writing, using a specific form of the forms will constitue a better form of writing. Not necessarily.

Best wishes, Clive
Thank you for your help.

After receiving your reply, I check various online sources for example of the phrase 'is a bad behavior/behaviour' and interestingly, I came up with no substantial support for my previous argument. Some uses were doubtful at best, probably wrong.

Are these wrong?

Cheating in class in a bad behavior.

His frenzy last night was a bad behavior.

If those are wrong, why the word 'behaviour' so inflexible as not to lend itself to a countable use, whereas, the similar variable noun 'discussion' is more pliable in the seemingly situations?

A group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.
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Hi,

Are these wrong?

Cheating in class in a bad behavior.

His frenzy last night was a bad behavior. Actually, this sounds odd, because 'behaviour' sounds somewhat controlled by the person whereas 'frenzy' sounds uncontrolled.

If those are wrong, why is the word 'behaviour' so inflexible as not to lend itself to a countable use, whereas, the similar variable noun 'discussion' is more pliable in the seemingly situations? 'Why' is a hard question to answer. That's how English is. Emotion: smile

A group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative. OK.

Best wishes, Clive
Thank you for your responses.

What is the difference?

A group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.

The group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.

Does the use of the definite article mean that there was only one discussion betwee us or could that mean eventhough there might have been many discussions between us last night, I was only thinking/focusing on only one such discussion and that is a good enough reason for the use of the definite article 'the'?
Hi,

What is the difference?

A group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.

The group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.

Does the use of the definite article mean that there was only one discussion between us or could that mean eventhough there might have been many discussions between us last night, I was only thinking/focusing on only one such discussion and that is a good enough reason for the use of the definite article 'the'? The definite article suggests that there was only one group discussion last night. There may or may not have been others at some other time. 'The' also suggests that the reader is already aware of the discussion.

Best wishes, Clive
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Thank you so much.

If the definite article suggests there were only one group discussion last night, can this be right under a certain situation? If yes, under what situation could it be?

A group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.
.
A group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.

This is certainly possible if there is more than one group discussion associated with this conversation, either last night or elsewhen.
AnonymousA group discussion we had last night was fruitful and informative.
This can be used as a conversation starter. It both introduces the fact that we had a group discussion and also tells how it was.
We had a group discussion last night. It (the group discussion) was fruitful and informative.
Similarly,
A fire that broke out in the warehouse district yesterday has finally been extinguished.
= A fire broke out in the warehouse district yesterday. It (the fire) has finally been extinguished.
As a way of continuing a conversation in which the fact of the discussion (or fire) has already been established, however, we would have:
The group discussion we had ...
The fire that broke out ...
CJ
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