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Hello,

I recently came across the following sentence:

The school has a variety of students.

My question is : why do you use an indefinate article before an uncountable noun  (variety) in this sentence. Is it possible that the word variety is a collective singular noun ?

I always thought that the indefinate noun could not be used with uncountable nouns.

thank you as always.

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Hi, Mrchuffie,

@Mrchuffie posted:

The school has a variety of students.

My question is : why do you use an indefinite article before an uncountable noun  (variety) in this sentence. Is it possible that the word variety is a collective singular noun ?

The noun "variety" is not uncountable. We do in fact speak about the different varieties of English.

In the example provided, it does look like a collective noun, being syntactically similar to group or series.

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor
@Mrchuffie posted:

Thank you. So in the sentence ,am I correct to assume that variety is being used as a singular noun hence the use of the indefinite article?

"Variety" is being used used as a singular noun in the same way that "number" is a singular noun in "a number of." As with the latter phrase, the reference with "a variety of"  is to a plurality. If the phrase "a variety of students" functioned as the subject of a sentence, it would take plural verb agreement:

(a) A variety of students attend the school.
(b) *A variety of students attends the school.

Incidentally, to add a little to Gustavo's explanation above, "variety" is NEVER a noncount noun (it is ALWAYS a count noun) when it is followed by an "of"-phrase. We rarely use "variety" as a noncount noun. When we do, it has an abstract meaning, as it does in the proverb "Variety is the spice of life."

Last edited by David, Moderator

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