Definitions for mass noun

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word mass noun

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

mass′ noun`(n.)

  1. a noun, as water, electricity, or happiness, that typically refers to an indefinitely divisible substance or an abstract notion and that in English cannot be used, in such a sense, with the indefinite article or in the plural.

    Category: Grammar

    Ref: Compare count noun.

Origin of mass noun:


Princeton's WordNet

  1. mass noun(noun)

    a noun that does not form plurals


  1. mass noun(Noun)

    A noun that normally cannot be counted.


  1. Mass noun

    In linguistics, a mass noun is a noun with the syntactic property that any quantity of it is treated as an undifferentiated unit, rather than as something with discrete subsets. Non-count nouns are distinguished from count nouns. Given that different languages have different grammatical features, the actual test for which nouns are mass nouns may vary between languages. In English, mass nouns are characterized by the fact that they cannot be directly modified by a numeral without specifying a unit of measurement, and that they cannot combine with an indefinite article. Thus, the mass noun "water" is quantified as "20 litres of water" while the count noun "chair" is quantified as "20 chairs". However, mass nouns can be quantified in relative terms without unit specification. Some mass nouns can be used in English in the plural to mean "more than one instance of a certain sort of entity"—for example, "Many cleaning agents today are technically not soaps, but detergents." In such cases they no longer play the role of mass nouns, but they are treated as count nouns. Some nouns have both a mass sense and a count sense.


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