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Subject: the article A
Question: Hello

I found the following information about the indefinite article
''a'' in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

''used before uncountable nouns when these have an
adjective in front of them, or phrase following them. For
example:
* a good knowledge of French
* a sadness that won't go away

Well, here is my question: Honestly, I don't understand the
information. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary says that
the indefinite article ''a'' is used before uncountable nouns
when these have an adjective in front of them. But, as far as
I know, the indefinite article ''a'' cannot be used in front of
uncountable nouns.

Does the information mean that we can ALWAYS use the
indefinite article ''a'' in front of uncountable nouns that have
an adjective in front of them? Is it a rule?

Please explain your reasons.

Thank you

Reply: Normally "sadness" is uncountable, so you can't say "*a sadness." But "A sadness that
won't go away" is possible. So is "an interesting rice." Often when you use an indefinite
article with a mass or uncountable noun, it means "kind of" The dictionary is
endeavoring to explain the environments where you might find an indefinite article; I
don't think you can ALWAYS have "a" before an adjective followed by an uncountable
noun, but there are instances where you can.
Reply From: Susan D Fischer      click here to access email
 
Date: 24-Jul-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: the article A    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (25-Jul-2013)
  2. Re: the article A    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (25-Jul-2013)

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