Talk:mass noun

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This is not correct. What is defined here is an irregular plural, not a mass noun. Sheep is an irregular plural, because the plural is the same as the singular, like fish. But a mass noun is another word for a non-count noun, meaning that it is used for things you cannot count, like sugar (you count grains of sugar, lumps of sugar, cubes of sugar, or barrels of sugar, not "sugars"), milk (you count glasses or gallons or containers of milk, not "milks"), honey, etc. To describe their quantity, these things usually use another (count) noun to describe them (like "a glass of milk," "a bottle of water," "a set of silverware," or "two jars of syrup") or an adjective or adjective phrase like "some" or "a little." There should also be a section on the noun page explaining irregular plurals, but we should not confuse the two. --Cromwellt|talk 16:23, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Don't feel bad, H2g2bob, this is an easy mistake to make. I don't know if we should call count nouns and collective nouns antonyms or just put them in the see also section, since they are not precisely opposites (they are not synonyms of each other). With words like hard, soft and easy are definitely antonyms, just of different definitions. But there is only one definition here, and they can't both be opposites of it, since opposite and antonym are boolean words (either "yes" or "no"). I guess I answered my own question: even though I would like the reader to know how these are related to mass nouns, calling them antonyms is not the way to do it, since it is technically not true. So they would go into the See also section. But maybe a better solution would be to make a list of types of nouns and put it on these pages. I think a noun types template is what we really need. That way the reader understands that these are related, and how they are related, but doesn't think they are antonyms (and therefore synonyms of each other). I guess we could make a related words section that lists them, or even a "types of nouns" list instead of a template, but I like the template idea much better than the other two, because it solves all the problems at a whack, and looks nice, too. Plus we can include other types, like proper nouns versus common nouns. --Cromwellt|talk 17:34, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Hi Cromwellt. I'd always believed words like sheep are mass nouns, and so didn't bother to double check that this was correct. However what you said makes a lot of sense (if only my English teachers actually taught me stuff like that - I think I learnt most about English grammer when I was learning some German :-) Anyway, I'll return your words to you - don't feel bad - I'm very glad you corrected this! I suppose you can have "a sheep" and "some sheep", but can only have "some dirt" ("a dirt" makes no sense). So thanks for correcting it! --H2g2bob 22:52, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
It is obvious by your example ("some dirt" versus "a dirt") that you now understand the difference very well. If you have any other English questions or wonder if something is right, feel free to ask. While it is possible I may not know the answer, I have a pretty good grasp of the English language generally, and when I really don't know, I can always look things up. I have discovered that most people who speak English do not know English. What I mean is, they generally know when something is stated correctly or incorrectly, but they have no idea why it is or isn't correct. They don't know the rules behind the language. Most people who know English very well learn it while learning other languages, I think. (This also means that most English grammarians know at least a little of another language, in my estimate.) While English has always come easily to me (I am currently an English teacher), I learned many of the rules I never fully understood in high school when I took Spanish (in high school), Biblical Hebrew (in college), and Biblical Greek (in college). As I'm currently teaching in southern Mexico and constantly improving my Spanish, I'm still learning more about English. Language is a wonderful and terrible thing. :) --Cromwellt|talk 00:43, 18 March 2006 (UTC)