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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > is LUCK countable?    

is LUCK countable?

Antonio Oliver

is LUCK countable?
Hi friends all around the world,
I need your help. This question was in a recent State Exam done by my students:

Choose the correct option.

a) How a bad luck she had!

b) What a bad luck she had!

c) What bad luck she had!

d) How bad luck she had!

I �ve always thought that LUCK was an uncountable noun, so I suggested c) was the right option. I was surprised to see that the official answer was b) 
What do you say?

27 Jul 2018      

maryse pey�

Let �s consider the grammar :
a) HOW, in the case of exclamations, must be followed by an adjective. It is the case in d) BUT ...
b) the sentence is ok grammaticaly.
c) in that case the noun after the adjective must have been plural as there is not the article A or AN.
d) the structure is incorrect grammaticaly.
Here are the general patterns I was taught for HOW and WHAT in exclamations :
HOW + adjective + subject + verb + !
WHAT + A or AN + (adjective) + singular noun + (subject + verb) !
Examples : What A speech !
                   What A boring speech !
                   What A boring speech he did !
WHAT + - + (adjective) + plural noun + (subject + verb) !
Examples : What houses !
                   What strange houses !
                   What strange houses there are in this village !
But you can say too : What furniture in the houses ! .... because "furniture" is considered as a whole.
I think that the notion of LUCK in your example is considered as a precise event or circumstance at a precise moment, that explains the answer b) which can mean "a piece of luck" as we can say "a piece of furniture".

27 Jul 2018     

Antonio Oliver

Thanks Maryse,
That �s the only explanation, if "luck" is considered as a particular, specific event, it becomes a countable noun. Otherwise it would be as wrong as saying "What 2 bad lucks!" or "What a lot of bad lucks!" Are you with me?
The truth is, Google quoted search (I always resort to this when in doubt) lists 63,000 cases of "What bad luck!" and 2,150,000 "What A bad luck!"
You live to learn�
Thanks again 

27 Jul 2018     

United Kingdom



The �official answer is INCORRECT.
I don �t know which version of English the �official person � speaks, but it is NOT the version of English spoken in the United Kingdom.
What good luck she had. ü
What bad luck she had. ü 
What a good luck she had. X 
What lovely music we heard. ü
What superb weather we are having. ü  
What accurate information you gave us. ü
What clear water this is. ü
ALL Uncountable. 
What a day this has been! ü
 What an awful  day this has been! ü 
 What a day!  What a day!  What a day! ü 
What a great holiday we had in Scotland last week. ü  
ALL Countable. 






27 Jul 2018     

United States

I agree with Les, and am amazed at the Google results. Maryse �s analysis of answer c says that it must be plural, but she forgot that uncountable would work as well.

27 Jul 2018     

maryse pey�

Thanks Les and Bruce (for your reminding me)... I must confess that I am amazed !
And my question is : how to answer when there is such a case ???

27 Jul 2018     


27 Jul 2018     

[email protected]
United Kingdom

Yep, it �s most definitely �C �

27 Jul 2018     

United Kingdom

Of course, it is c). You can have a piece of bad luck, I guess, but not a bad luck. If anyone said that to you, you would hear �What a bad look she had! � 

27 Jul 2018     

Antonio Oliver

Thank you all for taking time to reply. I could have sworn option b) wasn �t the right one, no matter what they say. By the way, Les, the "official" exam I was referring to is a Police Academy entry exam -guess you don �t need to speak English if you have a gun, ah, ah

27 Jul 2018     

[email protected]

luck is uncontable

3 Aug 2018