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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Urgent!! countable uncountable confusion    

Urgent!! countable uncountable confusion



Mafalda31
Greece

Urgent!! countable uncountable confusion
 
Hello to all!!
 
O.k we all know hair is uncountable. I have an excercise here and it is a multiple choice.
My hair a. look b. looks awful so I am going to wash a.it b.them.
 
The key to this excercise is b. a. So thawould go:
My hair looks awful so Iam going to wash it.
 
Why? Can anyone justify this to me?
 
I got confused. I mean yes, hair is uncountable but shouldn īt it be the other way round?  i.e My hair look awful I am going to wash them? Like the police is uncountable but we say the police are,
Please help me I can seem to find any reason at all!
 

23 Feb 2011      



Minka
Slovenia

The key is wrong. As simple as that.

My hair looks awful so I am going to wash it.


Isn īt it funny hat with some hairs (in plural) you are almost bald and with hair as such you are not? You have more hair if you say hair than hairs? 

23 Feb 2011     



Mafalda31
Greece

So it should be My hair look awful I am going to wash them?

23 Feb 2011     



tulpen25
Netherlands

The correct answer is definitely it.
 
Uncountable nouns are singular, you would never use "them" in that sentence.
 

23 Feb 2011     



banska bystrica
Slovakia

Hello,

the answer in the key is correct, it is similar to the noun "money"... Money is important. This is your money.

"hair" can be countable sometimes, if you mean, for example, three long hairs on your jumper... In that case you would say "You should shake them off"....


zuzana

23 Feb 2011     



Mafalda31
Greece

OK. What about the police? Is that an exception to the rule? Don īt we say the police  are? so we use plural for the police. Ofcourse we don īt add īs but we do say the police - them. don īt we?

23 Feb 2011     



joy2bill
Australia

Actually we can say (a) īthe police is" or (b) the police are". It all depends on whether you are thinking of the police as (a)  a single organisation or (b) the group of individuals belonging to the organisation.
It depends on your point of view.
 
We never think of a person having a single strand of hair on their head and so there are too many to count . Consequently it becomes a solid group, therefore using a singular verb and the pronoun "it". You can say īhair ī is in "there is a hair in my soup."
Cheers Joy

23 Feb 2011     



Mafalda31
Greece

OK. Got it. You see, that īs the difference between a native speaker and a non native one. For example in my language we never use strand of hair. That cleared all up now. We say hair meaning all the hair a person has in his head so we can use plural. Thank you!!

23 Feb 2011     



tulpen25
Netherlands

I have never heard (in BE at least) "The police is..." before. I think it sounds very strange. I would have said that you should always use "the police are"
 

23 Feb 2011     



edrodmedina
United States

@Mafalda..all the hair a person has in his head or on his head?

23 Feb 2011     



Minka
Slovenia

Oops! I didn īt read thoroughly - OF COURSE it is b and a. So the key IS correct. So the sentence is as I wrote it.

The use is similar to that of other uncountable nouns:

The water is cold. I īm going to heat it.
Time is precious. I want to use it wisely.
The bread is dry. I īll feed it to the chickens.



23 Feb 2011     

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