Definition of mass noun in English:

mass noun


  • 1A noun denoting something which cannot be counted (e.g. a substance or quality), in English usually a noun which lacks a plural in ordinary usage and is not used with the indefinite article, e.g. china, happiness.

    Contrasted with count noun
    • ‘And I also wonder what happens when you have a noun that doesn't need a determiner at all, for example mass nouns such as water, or plural nouns.’
    • ‘At the same time, their language does have a distinction between count and mass nouns, so that there is the equivalent of the English difference between " { many / * much foreigners } " and " { * many/much manioc meal’.’
    • ‘When used in a generic sense, only mass nouns and plural count nouns are able to occur without a determiner or quantifier: Water is colourless, Groceries are expensive, Dogs make good companions, * Dog makes a good companion.’
    • ‘For example, Mandarin's usage of mass nouns predisposes its discourse to take a more holistic approach to the world than say, English, which demarcates objects more readily.’
    • ‘Beware of anyone who pluralizes ‘literature’, which is already a mass noun.’
    1. 1.1A noun denoting something which normally cannot be counted but which may be countable when it refers to different units or types, e.g. coffee (drank some coffee, ordered two coffees).
      • ‘In the last chapter I largely overlooked the conceptual differences between count and mass nouns.’


mass noun