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“I am puzzled by conflicting opinion on [a] coffee.”

Course Queries Syllabus Queries
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NeelKamal Jha


( 5 months ago )

  • I am puzzled by conflicting opinion on a coffee.
  • I am puzzled by conflicting opinion on coffee.

These sentences are from a syllabus book. And I don't know which one is correct.

Garry Buttler


( 5 months ago )

Coffee is a mass noun, and therefore should not take an indefinite article. But there are constructions in English that exploit and extend this distinction.

In particular, if you do use a/an with a mass noun like coffee (tea, milk, rice, tofu, beef, etc), then you are referring to a particular kind (brand, variety, version, strain) of whatever that mass noun is.

I am puzzled by conflicting opinion on a coffee.
- means that it's a kind of coffee that you're talking about, not coffee in general.

I am puzzled by conflicting opinion on coffee.
- does not refer to any kind of coffee, but rather to all coffee.

(Note that this procedure can be applied to other kinds of mass nouns, besides food and drink;
but when it does apply to food and drink, the implications are automatically about eating and drinking)

what's your interest