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Counting an uncountable noun

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Counting an uncountable noun [#permalink] New post 30 Dec 2013, 23:08
I came across this sentence in a question:

"the quantities of water ..........have....."

Does the subject verb pair agree? Isn't the sentence committing an error by saying "quantities of" instead of "amount of"?

Please throw some light on it. And confirm if as per GMAT rules whether this could appear as a GRAMMATICALLY correct answer choice.
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Re: Counting an uncountable noun [#permalink] New post 31 Dec 2013, 11:46
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avik629 wrote:
I came across this sentence in a question:

"the quantities of water ..........have....."

Does the subject verb pair agree? Isn't the sentence committing an error by saying "quantities of" instead of "amount of"?

Please throw some light on it. And confirm if as per GMAT rules whether this could appear as a GRAMMATICALLY correct answer choice.


This is a correct subject verb pair. In isolation, water is an uncountable noun. When we use "quantities", however, we shift the subject to quantifiable aspects of water.

Uncountable
The water in the thermos IS still hot enough for hot cocoa.
Countable
The 8 cups of water in the thermos ARE still hot enough for hot cocoa.

While the use of quantities may be a bit strange/foreign, it is grammatically correct. Here is an example: "The quantities of water provided to the farmers for irrigation were increased by 10% this year." This sentence can be re-written with the un-countable water as well: "The water provided to the farmers for irrigation was increased by 10% this year." The meaning is similar, though your focus with the countable "quantities" is on the water provided to each farmer and the focus with the uncountable "water" is more upon the aggregate water amount.

KW
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Kyle Widdison | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | Utah


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Re: Counting an uncountable noun   [#permalink] 31 Dec 2013, 11:46
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Counting an uncountable noun

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