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what pronouns should we use for uncountable nouns or

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what pronouns should we use for uncountable nouns or [#permalink] New post 30 Nov 2010, 19:06
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what pronouns should we use for uncountable nouns or collective nouns? do we use "it" whenever we refer to uncountable nouns?
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Re: pronoun for uncountable nouns or collective nouns [#permalink] New post 30 Nov 2010, 20:06
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Hey yufenshi,

Good question - I've never loved the "uncountable" vs. "countable" distinction, so try this...an "uncountable" noun is really just something singular like:

Water
Air
Pollution

Would you say that "the water is cold" or "the water are cold"?

It's "is", right? Because it's singular. And if you look at these last two sentences, it also makes sense to use "it's" - you'd say "The water is cold; it is making my teeth chatter".


Often, rather than trying to force a definition, I think it's much more convenient for "idiomatic" expressions to just put it in your own context and see how that works, so I strongly suggest doing that. It's a pretty scalable way to think, too - it's more a strategy that can catch several situations than a definition that may only fit one.
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Re: pronoun for uncountable nouns or collective nouns [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 08:42
Hi Brian,

If I may ask....the examples you have provided, "is" and "are," are verbs right?
For uncountable nouns or collective nouns the pronoun can vary, right depending on the sentence?

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Re: pronoun for uncountable nouns or collective nouns [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 09:21
Hey amma,

I had some pronouns in there, too - "it" for all of them!

I probably could have clarified further - for those "uncountable" nouns I think the easiest way to determine what to use is just to check is (singular) vs. are (plural) rather than trying to think about whether you can count it. And once you've determined singular vs. plural, the pronouns will have to fall in line, too.

So you'd say that "Pollution is a big problem in Southern California. It has been a source of controversy in recent political elections." "Pollution", a singular (uncountable) noun will never take the pronoun "they" or "their" - it's singular and requires "it".

So with that whole countable/uncountable thing, just check to see if the word is singular or plural and the regular subject-verb and pronoun rules apply.


Certain noun phrases (some of...; none of...) are trickier because the singular/plural distinction comes down to the actual noun after it (some of the pie IS; some of the peanuts ARE). Is that what you're asking about with "collective nouns"? Those tend to be the awkward ones but they're rarely (if ever) tested on the GMAT.
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Re: pronoun for uncountable nouns or collective nouns   [#permalink] 01 Dec 2010, 09:21
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what pronouns should we use for uncountable nouns or

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